By Florence Ugbem
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the Benue State APC governorship candidate, Barr. Emmanuel Jime against the victory of Governor Samuel Ortom.
The five man panel presided over by Justice A.O Belgore after listening to arguments from Jime’s lead counsel, Yussuf Ali, SAN, and from counsel to Governor Ortom Sabestine Hon SAN, Chief Chris Uche SAN counsel to PDP, Chief Offiong Offiong SAN, counsel to INEC, reserved judgement to a date to be communicated to the parties.
Lead counsel for Barr Jime, Yussuf Ali SAN, urged the court to allow the appeal, arguing that there was substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act in addition to other violations of the law, stating that the lower tribunal erred to have dismissed his petition.
Counsels to the respondents, Sebastine Hon SAN, Chris Uche SAN and Offiong Offiong SAN in separate addresses called for the dismissal of the appeal, arguing that the case lacks merit.
Hon stated that none of the 59 witnesses called by the petitioner were credible, citing the different figures pleaded in the petition and the results tendered at the tribunal. He said the petition was dead ab initio and called for its dismissal with substantial cost.
In his address Chris Uche SAN stated the argument of over voting canvassed by the petitioner was premised on wrong grounds and that non- compliance must be with the provision of the Electoral Act, stating that the evidence tendered at the tribunal was deficient in quality and quantity.
Responding Offiong Offiong SAN stated that contrary to the provision of the law, the witnesses called by the petitioner/appellant were not eye witnesses to the malpractices complained of but rather people with “hear say evidence.”
He explained that whereas the so called electoral malpractices were allegedly committed at the polling unit level, those that testified for the petitioner/appenllant were collation agents, who were not on ground when the offences were said to have been committed. He therefore called for the dismissal of the appeal.
Present at the hearing the Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu, the SSF Prof. Tony Ijohor SAN, PDP State Chairman, Sir john Ngbede and the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Michael Gusa.