The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Makurdi has rejected the election petition lodged by Rt. Hon. Titus Uba and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the election of Governor Hyacinth Alia and his deputy, Barrister Samuel Ode of the All Progressives Congress (APC), deeming it incompetent.
Chairing the panel, Honorable Justice Ibrahim Karaye delivered the lead judgment, stating that the issues raised by the petitioners were pre-election matters that should have been addressed by the Federal High Court. He emphasized that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to handle these concerns.
Uba, who secured the second position in the March Benue Governorship election, had sought the Tribunal’s intervention to declare that Fr. Alia and Ode were not qualified to contest the election at the time. Uba also contended that Ode had presented a forged Form EC9 and questioned their sponsorship by the APC. The petitioners urged the court to annul the Certificate of Return issued to the incumbents and declare Uba and the PDP as the rightful winners.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Fr. Alia, Ode, and APC objected to the competency of the petition, challenging the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate upon it.
During the proceedings, Uba and the PDP presented five witnesses and 18 exhibits, while INEC and the respondents also submitted their evidence.
In his judgment, Justice Karaye emphasized that nomination, sponsorship, and disqualification are internal matters for political parties, reinforcing that the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the petition. He affirmed that Fr. Alia and Ode were indeed qualified to contest the Benue Governorship election held on the 18th of March.
Consequently, the petition was dismissed, leading to reactions from both legal teams. Chief Mamman Osuman, SAN, representing the respondents, applauded the well-delivered judgment, asserting that the petition was essentially “dead on arrival.” Barrister Ode expressed his satisfaction with the Tribunal’s decision and urged the petitioners to collaborate with the APC in delivering democratic benefits to the people of the state.
On the other hand, Barrister Okon Efut, SAN, representing the petitioners, chose not to comment on the outcome of the case.