The Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi on Friday dismissed appeals by Gov. Samuel Ortom, INEC and PDP against the decision of the Benue Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to reserve all rulings on applications till final judgement on the main petition.
The appellants are respondents in the petition filed by Mr Emmanuel Jime of APC before the tribunal challenging the election of Ortom in the 2019 governorship election in Benue.
The tribunal chaired by Justice Henry Olusiyi had decided to reserve all rulings on applications by parties in the petition until the final judgement on the petition.
The applications bordered on the status of additional witnesses that the party sought to bring
The petitioners argued that all additional witnesses participated in the electoral process and were competent to testify at the tribunal.
One of the additional witnesses is a former Attorney-General of Benue, Mr Joe Abaagu, through whom, the petitioners tendered vital documents, including voters’ register and card readers.
The respondents, however, rejected the additional witnesses, saying they were not listed as witnesses in the petition and should not be allowed to testify.
The court said it had reserved ruling on the status of Abaagu until the final determination of the petition.
The respondents, who were dissatisfied with the ruling, approached the appellate court, seeking an order compelling the tribunal to make its ruling on the status of the witness.
They argued that reserving ruling on applications to the final judgement on the petition amounted to breach of fair hearing.
Delivering ruling on the appeals, Justice Jummai Sankey said that the appellants failed to show cause on how their right to fair hearing was breached.
Sankey said that the appellants’ claims of denial of fair hearing were speculative, pointing out that speculation had no place in law.
She declared the appeals as lacking in merit and dismissed them.