By Martin Iyonguvihi
The Appeal Court, Makurdi Division has nullified the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate in Benue State, Rev. Fr Hycinth Alia, for the 2023 General Elections in 11 local government areas of the state and ordered for fresh primaries in those local government areas.
Delivering judgement in an appeal filed by the APC aspirant, Prof. Terhemba Shija, challenging the decision of the lower court to have upheld the nomination of Rev. Fr. Alia, as the APC governorship candidate, the appeal penal in a judgement read by Justice Biobelle Abraham Georgewill, agreed with Prof. Shija especially on the APC appeal panel report that sat after the conduct of the primaries, and made recommendations that the primary election was not valid.
“Yes I have seen that APC did not conduct a valid primary election on the 27th of May 2022 reasons why the appeal panel ordered a fresh election that was conducted on the 9th of June 2022 in some local government. In the interest of justice, I cannot allow those voters in the remaining 11 local government areas to be disenfranchised. Therefore, APC should go back and conduct elections in 11 local government areas within 14 days and INEC should recognize the winner after adding both election results as the gubernatorial candidate of the party.”
The local government areas where fresh primary election was ordered by the Court are, Gboko, Gwer-East, Gwer-West, Guma, Katsina-Ala, Logo, Makurdi, Otukpo, Ukum, Tarka and Vandeikya.
The local government areas where rerun was held on the 9th of June 2022 were, Buruku, Kwande, Agatu, Konshisha, Ogbadibo, Ushongo, Oju Okpokwu, Ado, Ohimini Obi and Apa.
The court ordered the APC to conduct a fresh governorship primary election in the 11 local government areas within 14 days.
The Court however held that Shija failed to prove that the APC didn’t hold a rerun governorship election on June 9, 2022.
Meanwhile, the Court had earlier in its judgment dismissed Prof. Shija’s interlocutory appeal against Rev. Fr. Alia. The interlocutory appeal was against the ruling of the Federal High Court which refused the application of Prof. Shija to tender in more facts into his case.
In a similar vein, the court dismissed Senator Barnabas Gemade’s appeal and upheld the judgement of Federal High Court which dismissed his suit against Fr Alia for being statute barred.