Apex court hears suit against Yuguda March 5
DETERMINED to continue the legal battle, the defeated Benue State gubernatorial candidate of the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party, (ANPP) Prof. Daniel Saror whose petition against Governor Gabriel Suswam was struck out last Tuesday, has filed a notice of appeal before the Supreme Court demanding an order to set aside the tribunal’s ruling.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will on Monday, March 5, 2012 commence hearing in the appeal filed by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) governorship candidate, Yusuf Maitama Tugar, challenging the victory of Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State.
The apex court fixed the date after the court had allowed Tugar’s interlocutory application, seeking to amend his notice of appeal, which seeks to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal that affirmed Yuguda’s victory at the April 16, 2011 election.
Justice Halima Mohammed-led tribunal dismissed Saror’s petition in a consolidated ruling with that of Prof. Steve Ugbah of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on the grounds of jurisdiction.
Saror in the appeal filed by his counsel, Christopher Orpin of Glorious Lords Chamber in Makurdi, alleged that the Benue State Governorship Election Tribunal erred in law when it held that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain his petition on the ground that 180 days had expired since the filing of the petition and said the error amounted substantial miscarriage of justice.
He said the finding of the governorship tribunal was at variance with the order of the Court of Appeal on September 29, 2011 and that of the Supreme Court on November 29, 2011which restored the petition and ordered it to be heard on merit.
The ANPP governorship candidate further stated that neither Section 285(6) nor any other section of the constitution expressly extinguishes the right of the petitioners to maintain the petition,
elucidating that the tribunal in an earlier ruling had found that it had jurisdiction, which was later confirmed by the Court of Appeal and was not set aside by the Supreme Court.
The notice of appeal also states that the tribunal took and concluded evidence which it adjourned on February 9, 2012 for judgment which was reserved to be delivered on March 1, 2012 but was later struck out on February 28, 2012 without delivering its judgment.
Saror is therefore seeking an order of the Supreme Court to compel the same panel of judges to deliver the judgment already reserved since February 9, 2012 and to also set aside the ruling of the tribunal and restores the petition.
Counsel to Tugar, Wole Akoni (SAN) had further prayed the court to exercise its discretion by invoking the provisions of Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act and hear the matter in view of the fact that the lifespan of the appeal would lapse on March 7, 2012 even as he prayed for an abridgment of time.
The amended, according to appellant counsel, was necessitated by the judgment of the apex court in the Kebbi State governorship tussle wherein the court held that the Court of Appeal lacked the powers to give judgment and elect to adduce reasons for the judgment beyond the 60 days required by law for the appeal to be disposed off.
Akoni argues that the Court of Appeal’s judgment, having given its reasoning beyond the statutory date, is a nullity.