The case filled by the four aggrieved All Progressives Congress, APC governorship aspirants in Benue State, challenging the candidature of Dr Samuel Ortom took a different twist today when two of the petitioners raised alarm that their signatures were forged by the other plaintiffs for their selfish ambition.
The aspirants, Chief Akange Audu and Hon Chief Mike Iordye stated this in two seperate Affidavits they deposed to before a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Evoh Chukwu.
When the case resumed today, Audu asked that he be joined in the suit while Iordye applied to opt out of the case. Audu’s application for joinder was granted without any objection. They both cited forgery of their signatures which they said the first plaintiff is using to favour his ambition.
Proceedings in the court were halted for almost 40 minutes as tempers flared up when Sebastian Hon, SAN representing the 1st and 2nd respondents alleged that the presiding judge was giving undue guide to the counsel to the plaintiffs against him.
According to Iordye in his affidavit in support of his motion for withdrawal, dated 23/3/2015 , “Knowing that I did not sign exhibit H, I was shocked to my marrows to notice upon a careful perusal that a signature purporting to be mine also appeared on it. That a further perusal of the exhibit H revealed that my purported signature on it and that of one Chief Akange Audu also appearing thereon were not signed in ink but were scanned and super imposed unto the document unlike that of the other signatories.”
Akange Audu in his affidavit deposed “i want to state categorically that I did not append my signature to the said Exhibit ‘H’ and that my signature thereon was forged.”
Giving more reasons while he declined being part of the initial plaintiffs in the suit, the former governorship aspirant averred that he had already adopted Dr Ortom as the APC candidate having “already on 11/12/2014 signed, adopting Dr Samuel Ortom as the APC candidate in the forthcoming general elections,” stressing that having already followed the decision of majority of the party leaders in the state, “i could not have adopted Rt. Hon Emmanuel Jime subsequently, particularly when this matter was already pending.”
In the first suit, the plaintiffs, otherwise known as the G4 comprising Prof. Steven Ugbah, Senator Joseph Waku, Emmanuel Jime and Chief Mike Iordye specifically joined Comrade Abba Yaro, Dr. George Akume [Senate Minority Leader/State Party Leader], the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants in the suit.
Represented by their counsels, Messrs. Sunday Ameh [SAN], Innocent Daa’Agba, S.A. Ngavan, Chris Alashi and Miss. G.N. Adugu, the Applicants/Plaintiffs are challenging the nomination of Ortom in the absence of primaries or the selection of a consensus candidate among the plaintiffs.
In addition, they asked the court to stop the Respondents/Defendants, especially 1st and 2nd Respondents/Defendants (i.e. Abba Yaro, State APC Chairman; and Dr. George Akume, the Senate Minority Leader who is also a member, APC Board of Trustees, from contravening or persisting in contravening Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 or Articles 7 [vii]. [ix], [xiii], 9 [iii] and other provisions of the party’s Constitution, pending the determination of the substantive matter.
Oscar Aorabee, counsel to Akange Audu who moved the application for the joinder futher told the court in his witten submission that his client attended the meeting of the party where Dr. Ortom was adopted as the consensus candidate of the party on December 11, 2014 and could not have signed the purported endorsement of Jime as the candidate of the party.
While alleging that his signature was forged, Audu further explained that his purported signature in exhibit ‘h’ attached to the suit was blurred meaning that it was scanned from another document.
Further trouble eupted in court when counsel to the defendants, Sabastine Hon [SAN] and Akintola Adeniyi [SAN] differed sharply with plaintiff’s counsel over what they described as clumsy and lack of due procedural breaches as well as multiplicity of applications /motions to be taken first by the court.
The arguments reached a climax when Hon, SAN accused Justice Chukwu of according preference to the plaintiff’s counsel, Sunday Ameh by giving him room to address the court even after objections by the defence counsel.
At this stage, the judge stood up and declared, “this court will rise” and dashed into his chambers. He only resumed proceedings at about 1:49 pm after counsel in the matter met briefly with him in chambers.
The matter was subsequently adjourned to March 31, 2015 for continuation after counsel to Akange Audu asked to be served with copies of the proceedings.