Makurdi, the Benue State capital, was agog with the folding up of the
Benue State Governorship elections tribunal on the grounds that they
cannot continue with their assignment since their hands are tie with
the latest Supreme Court pronouncement over the issue of 180 days for
tribunals to hear and decide electoral cases.
In her consolidated ruling on a motion brought by the 1st respondent
(Gov. Suswam’s counsel), Mr. D D Dodo SAN, challenging the
jurisdiction of the tribunal to continue adjudicating on the matter in
both the case of Prof. Ugbah of the ACN and that Prof. Saror of the
ANPP all against Governor Gabriel Suswam, the Chairman of the tribunal
Justice Halima Muhammed ruled that the facts in the matter are similar
to those of the Borno governorship which was dismissed by the Supreme
Earlier, arguing his position, Rotimi Akeredolu, lead counsel for the
ACN noted that the Supreme Court was fully aware of the expiration of
the 180 days but ordered that the case be heard on its merit, an order
that according to him is specific and direct hence there is every need
to obey same. He went further to state that the Supreme Court that
gave the retrial order was full house of seven Justices as required by
Akeredolu also said since the particular issue of 180 day as regards
the Benue case is before the Supreme Court through an appeal filed by
the 1st respondent (Suswam), it will amount to prejudice for the
tribunal to dismiss the case.
Other respondents through their various counsel s including Chief Solo
Akuma, PDP lead counsel aligned self completely with the arguments of
Mr. Dodo SAN maintaining that allowing the case to be in existence at
the tribunal is absolutely an abuse of Court process.
Responding to the development, the visibly elated Gov. Suswam told
journalist shortly after the court verdict, that he dedicated the
victory to the people of Benue state. Suswam also called on his
opponents in the opposition to join hands with him to develop the
state saying he will always leave his doors wide open to welcome
anyone who genuinely comes to assist him with ideas on how to develop
or move the state forward.
On his part, the candidate of the ACN in the last gubernatorial
elections, Prof. Steve Ugbah who sent a press release from California
in America where he had gone to received an award for 25 years of
meritorious service to the East Bays University said that he sincerely
appreciates the judiciary for the work they are doing in the country
especially in a much manipulative society Nigeria currently finds
He however said already, his lawyers are preparing to appeal what he
termed the “most contradictory” ruling of the court he has ever seen.
He called on his supporters and the people of Benue in general to
remain calm and avoid any form of provocation for according to him,
God Himself is in control of the situation.
Meanwhile, on the eve of the court decision up to yesterday morning,
the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue was seen everywhere with
her campaign vehicles which had been used in the build up to the 2011
elections singing and celebrating on the streets of Makurdi.
In the same vein streets of Makurdi and round – abouts were seen
with banners bearing different inscriptions such as, “Suswam has been
vindicated, shame to the opposition”, “Those who are making noise can
continue and wait for 2015” amongst others spread at strategic places
in the town while a combined team of heavily armed police men and
soldiers were seen patrolling the Makurdi metropolis with hurly-burly
of siren detachments.