The Benue State governorship election petition tribunal in Makurdi, on Saturday, upheld the victory of Gov. Hyacinth Alia of the APC in the March 18 governorship election.
Delivering the judgement, the chairman of the panel, Justice Ibrahim Karaye, held that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain pre-election issues raised by the petitioners, Titus Uba and PDP.
Mr Karaye, who read the unanimous judgement, stated that only the Federal High Court had the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain issues bordering on pre-election matters.
He further said the petitioners’ case was also an abuse of court processes because the same case was filed by the petitioners before the Federal High Court Abuja Division and its judgement was not challenged by the petitioners.
He said the petitioners lacked locus standi to challenge the nomination of the 2nd and 3rd respondents by the 4th respondent since they were not members of the 4th respondent.
Mr Karaye further said that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of forgery against the 3rd respondent before the tribunal.
He said the 2nd and 3rd respondents were qualified to contest the March 18 governorship election and therefore, dismissed the case.
The petitioners, Mr Uba and the PDP, had dragged the respondents, INEC, Mr Alia, Sam Ode, and the APC before the tribunal, challenging their declaration by the INEC.
The petitioners argued that the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Mr Alia and Mr Ode, were at the time of contesting the election, not qualified to contest the March 18 governorship election.
They averred that the 4th respondent – the APC – did not follow the provisions of the law in the nomination of the governorship and deputy governorship candidates.
They also alleged that the 3rd respondent had presented a forged certificate to the 1st respondent, INEC, therefore, should be disqualified.
They, therefore, prayed among other things, for the nullification of their election and to declare the petitioners as winners of the election, having scored second highest lawful votes.
They also contended that having not qualified to contest the election, their votes should be declared invalid and certificates earlier issued to them by INEC be withdrawn.
The petitioners in the suit did not challenge the result of the March 18 Benue governorship election but qualifications of the candidates.
However, the respondents in their counterarguments, urged the tribunal to dismiss the suit in its entirety as it was an abuse of court processes.
The respondents stated that the Federal High Court Abuja Division had before the election, delivered judgement on the same matter which was filed by the petitioners but they did not appeal the judgement till date.
They also said that the issues raised were all pre-election matters and only the Federal High Court had the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain same.
The 2nd and 3rd respondents clearly stated that since the prayers sought by the petitioners were all pre-election matters, the petitioners’ case was status bar and should be struck out.
They said the petitioners lacked locus standi to challenge the nomination of candidates of other political parties as they were mere meddlesome interlopers.