Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Benue State, Rt. Hon Titus Uba and the PDP are to call five witnesses to testify in their petition challenging the declaration of Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship poll held in Benue State.
Lead counsel to the Rt. Hon Uba and the PDP, Efut Okon, SAN, disclosed this while addressing the three-member panel of Justices led by Justice Sobere Biambo at the end of the pre-hearing session on Thursday, in Makurdi.
Giving the breakdown, Okon, SAN, said he was calling on two regular witnesses and three subpoenaed witnesses.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Ishaku Dikko, SAN, said the commission shall call one regular witness and one subpoenaed witness.
Counsel to Governor Hyacinth Alia, S. I Ameh, SAN, disclosed that he has listed two regular witnesses and intends to call three subpoenaed witnesses.
Mamman Mike Osuman, SAN, who appeared for the deputy govenor of Benue State, Sam Odeh disclosed that he intends to call three regular witnesses and two subpaened witnesses,while that of the APC, Mathew Burkaa, SAN, said the party was relying on four regular witnesses and one subpoenaed witness.
Disclosing the schedule of proceedings at the tribunal, the chairman of the panel, Justice Biambo said that the petitioners shall open their case on Wednesday, June 14th, 2023, and close their case on the 20th of June, 2023.
He continued that the first respondent, INEC, shall open and close their defense between July 3rd, 2023 to July 7th, 2023, while the second respondent, Alia, will take his turn from July 11th, 2023 to July 14th, 2023.
The Chairman of the panel further said the third respondent, Odeh, will take his turn from July 17th, 2023 – July 21,2023, while the APC which is the fourth respondent will have between July 24th, 2023 – July 28th, 2023, while July 31st, 2023 will be for hearing of the preliminary objections to the petition.
He disclosed that the petitioners and respondents will have 25 days which will run from August 2nd, 2023 to August 28th, 2023 to file their final written addresses, while August 31, 2023 is for adoption of final written addresses.
Earlier, the tribunal fined the APC the sum of N50,000 for withdrawing it’s application filed on May 22,2023, praying the court to strike out the petition for want of jurisdiction.
The APC while withdrawing the application informed the court that it was relying on its application filed on June 7th, 2023.
T. D Pepe, SAN, objected to the withdrawal of the application on the grounds that the petitioners have already joined issues on the application.
He asked the panel to award cost against the APC.
The panel accordingly adjourned to Wednesday, June 14th, 2023, for the petitioners to open their case.
The governorship election petition tribunal for Benue State sat in Lafia on May 30th, 2023,but had to relocate to Makurdi, Benue State after the respondents challenged the territorial jurisdiction of the panel to entertain the petition in Lafia.
In petition No: EPT/BN/Gov/01/2023, Uba and the PDP allege that the deputy governor of Benue State, Sam Odeh presented a forged certificate to INEC.
The petitioners allege that Odeh
obtained Form EC9(Affidavit in support of Personal Particulars) of from INEC, filled, signed and presented/submitted the Form to INEC, falsely certifying that the said Form EC9 was sworn to before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Rt. Hon Uba and the PDP aver that Alia and Odeh were not sponsored by the APC within the period prescribed by law(that is, not later than 180 days to the governorship election in Benue state, amongst other averments.