Appeal court affirms Lalong’s victory
• Useni Heads To Apex Court
The Court of Appeal sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital, yesterday, dismissed the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the March 9, this year’s supplementary governorship election, Lt-Gen. Jeremiah Timbut Useni (rtd), who appealed the judgment of the lower tribunal that declared All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Governor Simon Lalong, as the winner.
The lower tribunal had earlier dismissed Useni’s challenge of the election results as incompetent and lacking in merits in its entirety and awarded N200, 000 as costs against him and his party.
The five-member penal of the appellate court, which upheld the decision of the Justice H.A. Suleman-led Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, ruled that Useni failed to prove his allegations of forgery and electoral irregularities against Lalong and INEC, respectively.Useni had claimed that Lalong was not qualified to contest the election, having held three certificates with three different names and therefore guilty of forgery.
He also claimed that the election was marred with malpractices and irregularities.Useni, through his Lead Counsel, Chief Mike Ezekhome (SAN), had asked the appellate court to decide in his favour in the appeal against the judgment of the lower court and declare him winner of the supplementary election.
But the penal, in its judgment, declared Lalong winner of that election on the ground that Useni and PDP “could not prove the allegations of forgery against Lalong or the allegations of electoral irregularities against INEC”.
The court said that the four issues- qualification, forgery, malpractices and breach of electoral Act- which were put forward for determination, were all decided in favour of Lalong and INEC.
“This appeal has, therefore, failed in its entirety and judgment is hereby entered in favour of the 2nd respondent (Lalong),” the panel declared.Speaking shortly after the judgment, Mr. Edward Pwajok (SAN), one of Useni’s Counsel, told newsmen: “Our client has instructed us to appeal this judgment of the appellate court at the Supreme Court.
“It is our conviction that we shall succeed with our appeal at the Supreme Court and reclaim the stolen mandate of our client.” Also speaking, Mr. Garba Pwul (SAN), Counsel to APC, said there was nothing wrong in Useni’s decision to head to the Supreme Court, noting: “We are not surprise about their decision to appeal this judgment; it is their right to do so and we are not opposing or afraid at all.“What we want the people of Plateau to know is that Lalong will still emerge victorious at the Supreme Court.”
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