After Suswam’s Forged Certificate, What next?

Posted: July 19, 2012 in BENUE, political, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last week the Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi dismissed a case against the Benue state Governor, Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam, by his only contender to the ticket of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Terver Kakih, during the 2011 governorship primaries. This court victory marks the end of litigations contesting the eligibility of Suswam as the executive governor of Benue state.
Before This landmark judgement, there had been a level of frenzy generated by the case owing to its importance in the political history of the state, coupled with the fact that the opposition in the state had previously suffered a huge defeat at the supreme court in their attempt to unseat Suswam.
Many in the camp of Suswam’s detractors believed Kakih’s case was their last hope at unseating the Benue strongman, since all attempts by political parties like the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) led by their governorship aspirant, Prof. Steve Ugbah, the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP) and her two time governorship candidate, Prof. Daniel Saror, had failed at the polls and judicial parlance.
In the build up to the Benue Governorship elections in 2011, the PDP had only two contenders to the highest seat in the state- governorship, Mr. Terver Kakih and the,incubent, Hon. Gabriel Suswam. The battle for who will represent the party as its flag bearer became the bone of contention which eventually led to the allegations that,in turn gave birth to the following litigation.
With the conduct of the party primaries began the vista of court processes, as Kakih refused to conceed loss on the grounds that the candidate selection process was not fair, alledging rigging in the primaries. Kakih who pulled six votes during the nomination alledged that Suswam’s 974 votes, were underserving. According to him, the primaries were rigged in favour of Suswam thus his failure to clinch the ticket.
Kakih, in lieu of his grudge with the conduct of the selection, approached the court for redress citing the grounds of electoral irregularities and non qualification of Suswam to contest the party primaries.
He alledged that Suswam should not be accorded the right to the ticket of the PDP not only because the primaries were not free and fair but also on the grounds that the nomination process contravened sections of the elctoral act. Kakih further claimed that Suswam lacked the educational qualifications to contest for the seat of the governor of Benue State, thus praying the court to  declare him winner of the primaries as the only contender to the party’s ticket.
On these basis Kakih launched a comprehensive legal attack at Suswam , a battle judged by political watchers to be sponsored by obvious detractors of the Governor led principally by Suswam’s predecessor, Sen. George Akume, a fact variously contested by Kakih at different fora, as according to him his fight was one borne out of genuine intention to ensure the right thing was done and not another sponsored smear campaign, moreover,he claimed if he had the backing of such money bags, there would definitely have been a bigger financial warchest at his disposal.
This case at the initial institution seemed very promising for its sympathisers who saw the bright chances therein, with even the media awash with stories as to its potency. Kakih to further butress his claim of non-qualification of his antagonist even accused Suswam of certificate forgery, an issue to be later the crux of all other petiotions and court cases instituted against Suswam, exciting political pundits and other opposition appologists.
This case which is supposed to have been concluded before the conduct of the general polls, unfortunately suffered numerous set backs wherefor it could not be concluded whithin the time of conduct of primary elections. It  suffered transfers from the Federal high court in Abuja to Makurdi, to the Federal High Court in Jos and then back to Makurdi where it has finally been laid to rest.
Delivering judgement on the matter the court held that the plaintiff, Mr. Terver Kakih on whose shoulder lies the onus of proof as stipulated in Evidence Act, section 131 (1) failed to move his proof beyond reasonable doubt that Suswam was disqualified having failed to present a genuine but rather fake certificate to the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice Marcel Awokulehin, said that based on the law’s consistency on the issue of nomination being solely a political party affair. Quoting series of cases decided against the decisions of lower courts by the Supreme Court, he declared that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Justice Awokulehin also described all evidence as canvassed by the plaintiff’s witnesses as prototype, saying though they variously held that the plaintiff who was their candidate was deliberately schemed out of the party primaries where notice was not even given to him on a day for the primaries, they forget to state the time it was later conducted so as to leave it to the court to decide on whether that was the right time for the exercise.
Describing all allegations as contained in the suit as, unsubstantiated, vexatious, malicious and vague.

Eventhough it is widely rumoured that the challenger is poised to pursue the case as far as the Supreme court and is alledgedly said to have filled for an appeal at the court of appeal, Kakih in response to the judgement in Makurdi said he was atleast satisfied that there was a court thag could hear a case against the Governor and was still waitinh on his lawyers to get full understanding before deciding whether to proceed to the appeal court or not.
Also acknowledging the end of a trail of court cases which were iced with the crowd exciting issue of examination malpractice, Special Adviser to the Benue State governor, Dr. Cletus Akwaya also in an elated tone expressed satisfaction over the conclusion of the matter which according to him laid to rest allegations of certificate forgery against Suswam.

 

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