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Tribunal dismisses petitions against Suswam

Makurdi -The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Makurdi has dismissed the two petitions challenging the re-election of Mr Gabriel Suswam as Governor of Benue for lack of  jurisdiction.
The  petitions had earlier been struck out in 2011 by a panel chaired by Justice Munir Ladan on technical ground.
The petitions were filed by Professors Steve Ugbah of ACN and Daniel Saror of the ANPP.
In their separate petitions, they held that Suswam did not win the April 2011 polls, contending that the election was marred by malpractices.
The two petitions also challenged the competence of the governor to run, alleging certificate forgery against him.
However, following Ugbah’s appeal against the earlier verdict, the apex court upturned the verdict of the lower court and ordered the case to be tried on its merit.

NAN reports that consequent upon the order of the apex court, a new tribunal, headed by Justice Halima Mohammed, was constituted to hear and determine the case on merit.
When the case came up on Tuesday, counsel to Suswam, Mr Damian Dodo (SAN), informed the court that he had an application which sought to terminate further proceedings on the petitions.
He said that the application was pursuant to the Supreme Court’s judgment on the 180 days controversy.
He added that the statutory time for the determination of the matter had elapsed.
Dodo, therefore, urged the court to follow the recent judgment of the apex court and dismiss the petitions.
Counsel to PDP, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) and that of INEC, Mr Jibril Okutepa (SAN), aligned themselves with the argument.
Counsel to Ugbah, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, argued that the application was an abuse of court process.
He added that the Supreme Court had ordered the retrial of the petition on its merit and urged the tribunal to obey the order of the apex court and dismiss the applications.
On his part, counsel to Saror, Mr Christopher Orpin, urged the court to deliver judgment, which had been reserved since the past 19 days.
In her ruling which lasted for just two minutes, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Halima Mohammed, said in the circumstance, the tribunal no longer had jurisdiction to preside over the petitions.
Counsel to ACN, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), described the verdict as “scanty in petitions that were never consolidated,” adding that they would appeal against it. (NAN)

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