The dispute over the actual candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last legislative election in Kwande/Ushongo Federal Constituency of Benue State, won by the party has been taken before the Supreme Court.
George Nduul, an engineer, filed a notice of appeal against a judgment of the Court of Appeal in Makurdi, which upheld the December 10, 2015 judgment of the Federal High Court, Makurdi.
The lower court dismissed his suit against Benjamin Wayo, who presently occupies the seat.
In the notice of appeal filed last December 12 by his lawyer, Matthew Burkaa, Nduul, who faulted the November 29, 2017 judgment of the Appeal Court, wants the Supreme Court to set it aside and declare him the winner of the primary election conducted by the APC on December 10, 2014 for Kwande/Ushongo Federal Constituency.
Nduul also wants the apex court to declare that he is the winner of the general election, that held on March 28, 2015 for Kwande/Ushongo Federal Constituency; that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issue him a certificate of return, and that he be sworn in as the member representing the constituency in the House of Representatives.
He raised 17 grounds in his notice of appeal, among which is that the Appeal Court erred when it held that he (the appellant did not show that Wayo (the 1st respondent made false representation to INEC in his Form CF 001 or that the letter enclosed in the form was forged.
Nduul argued that his case in relation to the issue of false information was predicated on Section 31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which empowers the court to disqualify any person, who gives any false information in his affidavit or any document accompanying same in his Form CF 001.
He contended that contrary to the Appeal Court’s finding, Wayo, in filing his Form CF 001, stated falsely under oath, that his appointment was terminated by a letter dated 4th September 1997 with reference No: JSC/SEC/P/1192/1/40 wherein he (Wayo) allegedly falsified the letter by deleting the word: “appointment” and writing “termination.”
Nduul also faulted the Court of Appeal decision that since the letter was certified by the Secretary of the Benue State Judicial Service Commission, it could not be said to have been falsified. He argued that a comparison of the letter Wayo attached to his Form CF 001 and the true copy of the letter, which he tendered as exhibit, would reveal that the former was falsified.
He equally faulted the Court of Appeal for not considering Exhibit GN11, which showed the complete record of proceedings in suit No: MHC/122/97 where the said letter of termination was tendered and relied upon by Wayo in the suit he (Wayo) filed challenging the termination of his appointment in 1997.
Nduul argued that the Appeal Court was in error when it held that a candidate could be disqualified only where the false information he gave in his Form CF 001 relates to any of the disqualifying grounds in the Constitution.
He contended that Section31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) empowers the court to disqualify a candidate, who gives false information in his Form CF 001. He added that the portion of the Electoral Act did not state that the false information must only relate to any of the disqualifying grounds in the Constitution before the court could disqualify a candidate.
The appellant faulted the Appeal Court’s decision that it was not a requirement under the APC’s guidelines that candidates for the party’s primary must produce their screening certificates at the venue of the primary election.
Nduul stated that his case against Wayo was that he did not purchase the party’s nomination form and did not possess a screening certificate at the date of the primary election. He added that both election Committee and Primary Elections Appeal Committee of the APC found as a fact that Wayo did not possess a screening certificate at the date of the primary and was therefore, not fully cleared.
He argued that the Appeal Court erred in law when it failed to consider his argument that Wayo did not pay the nomination fee and had no evidence of such payment from any designated bank, as required under Paragraph 6 of the APC guidelines.
The appellant also faulted the Appeal Court’s position that his argument that Wayo did not exhibit his payment slip was a fresh issue, which could be raised only with the leave of the court. He argued that one of his complaints at the trial court was the non-compliance with Paragraph 6 of the APC’s guidelines.
The paragraph, he noted, provides for the payment of a nomination form and that the teller and payment advise slip shall be evidence of payment. He added that had the Appeal Court taken a holistic view of his case, it would have found that he complained against lack of payment advise slip by Wayo.
He argued that the Appeal Court erred in law when it assumed jurisdiction and determined the 1st respondent’s fresh issue, which was a direct complaint against the decision of National Assembly Primaries Appeal Committee of the APC.
Nduul argued that the Appeal Court misdirected itself in law when it treated the APC as a neutral party in resolving his complaint that Wayo did not pay for a nomination form. He contended that since his complaint was against the APC for not upholding its guideline, it was wrong for the Appeal Court to hold that it was the party that should have complained that Wayo did not possess a nomination form.
It was part of Nduul’s contention at the trial court that Wayo did not comply with the APC’s guidelines by not paying the necessary fees, including the mandatory N2million for the nomination form and was therefore, not issued with the required clearance certificate by the party’s screening committee to participate in the primary.
He stated that upon enquiry, he discovered that Wayo’s appointment as Magistrate 2 was terminated by the Benue State Judicial Service Commission (BSJSC) for being of “doubtful integrity,” for “violating the code of conduct relating to judicial officers”.
Nduul said, upon discovering that Wayo did not comply with the party’s guidelines, he appealed to the APC’s Appeal Committee for National Assembly primaries in Benue State, which allegedly voided Wayo’s candidacy and directed that he, having emerged second at the primary, be made the party’s candidate.
He added that APC’s National Working Committee (NWC), acting on behalf of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), accepted the Appeal Committee’s report, approved his (Nduul’s) candidacy and directed that he should be issued with the necessary INEC forms as the party’s duly nominate candidate.