The gubernatorial candidate of the the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State in the 2019 general elections, Sen. Jeremiah Useni, has strongly maintained that his appeal against Governor Simon Lalong is a very relevant post-election matter and should be allowed.
He insisted that Lalong did provide false information to the electoral umpire (INEC) in his form CF001, and this was equally entered as a finding by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in its judgement.
recalls that the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had in its judgement delivered on October 2, 2019, dismissed Useni’s petition.
Useni had through his lead Counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) told the appeal panel that one sore point in the appeal was that the tribunal in its judgement did not rely on the Supreme Court judgement delivered on September 26, 2019, which set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which had disallowed the testimony of witness PW12, whereas the witness had been allowed by the tribunal to give evidence during its seating.
This situation had led the tribunal to expunge the testimonies of 19 other witnesses during the judgement.
Ozekhome explained that “The tribunal ought to have taken judicial notice of the judgement of the Supreme Court.”
He, therefore, urged the Court of Appeal justices to set aside the judgement of the tribunal which did not declare Senator Useni as duly elected governor of Plateau.
The two cross appeals by Simon Lalong and the All Progressives Congress were in connection to some aspects of the decision of the election petition tribunal delivered on October 2nd, 2019.
Lalong’s legal team led by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and that of APC led by Garba Pwul, SAN, urged the Justices to allow the cross appeals because matters of qualification have been settled by the Supreme Court as being pre-election issues.
In addition, they said, the Supreme Court had also declared the aspect of the demand for certificates as contained in the INEC form CF001 to be unconstitutional.
They cited the cases between Atiku and INEC and Akinlade and INEC, and prayed the Court to allow the cross appeals and to dismiss or strike out Useni’s petition.
However, Useni’s lead Counsel, Ozekhome, vehemently argued against their brief of argument.
He maintained that his client’s petition is in no way a pre-election matter.
He further argued that in the case of Atiku, the Supreme Court found that Buhari did not supply false information, but that the case at hand shows that the trial tribunal found that the cross appellant supplied false information with twelve names listed.
Ozekhome added that Simon Bako Lalong did not lead any evidence or call any witness to link him with the WAEC/GCE Certificate he had presented unlike Buhari who called witnesses to testify regarding his certificates.
“Therefore, I urge my lords to dismiss the cross appeals as lacking in merit, vexatious and gold digging.”
After listening to Useni’s appeal and the cross appeals, the presiding Judge, Justice, J.O Bada, announced that he had reserved judgement on all the cases.
The seating also witnessed a slight reshuffle of the five-member appeal panel, as Hon. Justice Yargata Nimpar was unavailable, but Hon. Justice M. Adumein sat on the panel.