The Court of Appeal, Makurdi Judicial Division presided over by Justice Mohammed Garba has reserved judgment in the Appeal filed by the defeated Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate in the April 11 general elections, Prince Terhemen Tarzoor who is challenging the victory of Governor Samuel Ortom of the All Progressives Congress.
The Appeal Court also reserved judgment in the Appeal filed by defeated candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Nassarawa State, Mr. Labaran Maku who is challenging the election of Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura. In the two cases, the fivemember panel took the decision after it listened to counsels to both parties and stated that judgment will be communicated to all parties through the registry of the court.
In the Tarzoor’s case against Ortom, the petitioner’s Counsel, Adebayo Adenipekun, in moving his appeal, urged the court to hold that APC did not conduct governorship primary election for Benue State hence the said nomination of Ortom was invalid by reason of non-compliance with Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
Adenipekun submitted that Ortom in his reply to the petition at the lower tribunal admitted that his party neither conducted a direct nor indirect primary election but a consensus primary where he emerged and argued that consensus has no place in law.
But Ortom and his party, APC in a cross appeal questioned the competence of Tarzoor’s appeal having respectively adopted their briefs of argument in urging the court to allow their cross appeal and dismiss the appellants’ appeal.
According to the governor’s counsel, Adeniyi Akintola, Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) is limited to members of a political party and in particular, aspirants who participated in an election that is questioned unlike Section 182 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which is open to every Nigerian.
He explained that Tarzoor cannot ask for an order declaring him winner of the April 11 Benue governorship poll since he did not contest the number of votes cast at the poll and doing so would amount to standing the law on the head. Tony Ijohor SAN who appears for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after adopting his briefs of arguments submitted that the PDP governorship candidate ought to have called a voter to ask the court to invalidate votes due to Ortom and the APC, and added that since that was not the case, Ijohor argued that the PDP man should not be allowed to ask to be declared winner in the election.
After hearing all the parties, the presiding judge, Honourable Justice Muhammed Garba adjourned the appeals including that of the APGA candidate in Nassarawa State, Mr. Labaran Maku for judgment at a date reserved to be communicated to senior counsels for the parties.
It would be recalled that the Honourable Justice Elizabeth Karatu led Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had on 20th September, 2015 dismissed Tarzoor’s petition for lacking in merit after striking out two of the three grounds of his petition.