BENUE TRIBUNAL: IF SUSWAM LOOSES

Posted: July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
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BENUE TRIBUNAL: IF SUSWAM LOOSES

The battle for Benue government house seems to have been fought and won by Gov. GabrielSuswam of the PDP at but to residents of the state, this battle thought to be won is just a prelude to the Grande finale which is being staged at the tribunal. The Justice Munir Laden led tribunal now sitting in Abuja, is hearing two petitions filled against Suswam, INEC and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in joint suits. In his suit the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) gubernatorial flag bearer, Prof. Daniel Saror and Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugbah of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), are petitioning INEC and Suswam as PDP that Suswam was unqualified to contest in the April 27 polls.
In his suit the ANPP gubernatorial flag bearer is claims that Suswam was unqualified to contest in the April 27 polls;
“The 1st respondent, Hon. Gabriel Torwua Suswam was at the time of the elections not qualified to contest the election, having presented a forged certificate to the INEC, the 3rd respondent contrary to section 182(1) (j) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria …”
The petition which also has INEC as the 3rd respondent prays that Suswam is disqualified and the polls nullified. It also demands that the 2nd respondent (PDP) is restricted from fielding any other candidate in the subsequent bye-election.
Also at the tribunal to oust Gov. Suswam, is the 1st runner up in the just concluded polls, ACN’s Prof. Steve Ugbah. In his position he seeks that Suswam’s election as state governor be nullified and he is declared governor in Suswam place, on the grounds that the respondent has contravened the constitution by presenting a forged certificate purported to be issued by West African Exanimations Council (WAEC).
“The first respondent was not qualified and or was disqualified to contest and to be elected or returned as governor of Benue state since the 1st respondent has contravened the mandatory provision of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) by presenting to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a forged or forged certificates purported to have originated from, issued by, or attributed to the West African Examinations Council (O’ level) Examination.” It reads.
Ugbah also submitted in his 1st and 2nd prayers that Suswam was not duely elected and had rigged in the several local governments as such prays that the court nullifies the election of Suswam and declares him winner of the purported election.
These cases which have become the toast of all local tabloids and gist in every assembly of Benue indigenes have the potential to change the face of politics in the state as well as hold very unsettling consequences, if the cases as presented are judged and the respondent is found wanting, in which case nullification becomes the end result. national accord takes a look at the possible resultant consequences.

Saror/Certificate Angle
In as much as there has been so much argument as to the tribunal’s jurisdiction over the certificate issue which is Prof. Saror’s main contention and Ugbah’s fourth prayer. With Justice Ladan’s wave of the objection as mere technicalities, Saror now prays that the court nullifies and restricts PDP and Suswam from contesting in the subsequent election, which is also ACN’S and Prof. Ugabh’s prayer.
Political watchers believe that if this scenario plays out there could be a possible pendulum shift in the direction of Power as the situation that took place in Imo in 2007 will play itself in Benue. The PDP will have to re-align herself with any other Political Party that will serve and defend her interests. Unfortunately the biggest spender and most popular opposition party (ACN) will not be in consideration owing to its association with Gov. Suswam’s arch enemy and erstwhile godfather Sen. Akume. Prior to the polls Suswam was at various fora quoted to brag that in event he loses out in his bid to return as governor he would rather see a stump of wood replace him than have Ugbah in his place. Thus with Suswam and PDP out of the race and the obvious antagonism between PDP and ACN it is sure that the PDP and Suswam in Particular will throw their weight and most importantly their financial chest behind such a party. With the recent support of GNI by other opposition parties in the state, there is an array of options for Suswam to use in achieving this aim.

Ugbah/Section 140 (2) & 141 Angle
The leading petitioners – the ACN have in their 2nd and 3rd prayers asked that the tribunal annul the April 27 polls on grounds of electoral malpractice. It further asks that the court declares ACN and Prof. Ugbah, who is 1st runner-up in the polls as winner and resultantly governor of the state. If this situation plays out as whished by Ugbah and cronies, there is also bound to be resultant consequences from this judgement. With the controversy surrounding Section 140 (2) & 141 of the Electoral Act based on the Justice Gabriel Kolawole’s recent ruling which held that the said section is an affront to the 1999 Constitution and the appeal by INEC, the law is perceived to be still effective.
The Act actually provides that when the election of a candidate with the highest number of votes have been overturned, the court has no power to declare the next candidate with the highest number of votes the winner of an election, but only has the power to order a fresh election.
Thus, if this law is applicable, then there is bound to be a re-election and not a declaration by INEC in favour of ACN and Ugbah. If this then is allowed, the earlier analysed situation will come to play.
In an event that the appellate court decides to uphold Justice Kolawole’s judgement then Ugbah is likely to be declared winner of the disputed polls. Unfortunately, this will open another legal chapter. In this case, it could be between the two Professors (Ugba and Saror). Recently, Saror, in a that with national accord made it known that he is watching Ugba’s petition, as the petitioner lacks the basis on which he is contesting Suswam’s victory as his party did not conduct a credible primaries. According to him, the constitution allows him to sue Ugbah and ACN for non-compliance to the Constitution. The Professor of Veterinary Medicine stated that he may be forced to sue the Ugbah and his party for not conducting proper primaries-the purported primaries that produced Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugbah.
It is noteworthy that the ACN in Benue State is already embroiled in a number of legal tussles emanating from the party’s primaries.

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