The Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi, on Monday, nullified the Primary of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in Benue State and subsequently ordered the Party to conduct a fresh primary election in eleven (11) Local Government Areas of the State for the nomination of its Governorship Candidate ahead of the March 11, 2023 Guber election.
The presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Ambi-Usi Danjuma JCA who led Justices Biobele Abraham Georgewill and Ibrahim Wakil Jauro, unanimously set aside the judgement of the trial Court and partly upheld the appeal.
The Appeal was filed by an aggrieved aspirant, Professor Terhemba Shija (Suit No: CA/MK/PE/21/2022: Shija v. APC, Alia & INEC), challenging the conduct of the Primary which produced the second respondent (Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia).
Shija, through his counsel Mr. Joseph Agbo, had approached the courts seeking the nullification of the primary election of his party that produced Fr. Alia on the grounds that the process failed to meet the guidelines as stipulated in the Electoral Act and the APC’s rules guiding the conduct of the party’s primaries. Agbo argued that no valid primary election held either on the 27th May or on the 9th of June, 2022 and subsequently prayed the Court to nullify the primaries.
The APC had conducted the Benue Guber Primary election on May 27 last year, via direct primary in the 23 LGAs of the State. Following protests by party members, the Barr. Uzoamaka Onyeama-led APC appeal panel recommended a re-run in 12 LGAs and upheld the results in 11.
Recall that in November 2022, Justice Hassan Dikko of the Makurdi Federal High Court, dismissed the suit and held that the primary election that produced Alia was valid and authentic.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of Justice Hassan Dikko, Professor Shija approached the higher Court for reprieve.
The Appeal Court after evaluating the evidence, agreed with the APC on the validity of the rerun of 9th June 2022 which took place in twelve (12) LGAs of the State. The Court held that it was valid and stands but nullified the Primary of May 27.
“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 can not allow those voters in the remaining Eleven Local Government to be disenfranchised, therefore, APC should go back and conduct elections in eleven local Government within 14days and and INEC should recognize the winner after adding both election results as the Gubernatorial candidate of the Party”, the Court held.
The affected 11 LGAs are: Gboko, Gwer- East, Gwer-west, Guma, Katsina, Logo, Makurdi, Otukpo, Ukum, Tarka and Vandeikya LGAs.
The court ordered that the results of 9th June 2022 and the one to be conducted fresh should be added and the winner with the highest number of votes should be declared winner.
The LGAs that rerun was held on the 9th of June 2022 and termed valid are: Buruku, Kwande, Agatu, Konshisha, Ogbadibo, Ushongo, Oju Okpokwu, Ado, Ohimini, Obi and Apa LGAs.
Results of the re-run of June 9
Terhemba Shija: 1859;
Terlumun Ikya: 2746;
Bernard Yisa: 338;
Mathias Byuan: 14152;
Sam Ode: 21698;
Hyacinth Alia: 195314
Godwin Ityoachimin: 860;
Barnabas Gemade: 3831;
Michael Kaase Aondoakaa: 3517;
Herman Iorwase Hembe: 720;
Terwase Orbunde: 1393;
Steven Lawani: 23925;
Ayom Mlanga: 0