Gyang Bere, Jos
The Court of Appeal sitting in Jos has upheld the election of Mr. Simon Lalong of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as duly elected governor of Plateau State against the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Gen. Jeremiah Useni (Rtd).
Useni, through his lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, had filed a 21-ground appeal against the judgment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal delivered on 2 October, 2019 in favour of Governor Lalong. He pleaded with the Appeal Court to set aside the judgment of the tribunal on logical reasoning that Lalong provided false information to INEC in his form CF001, did not comply with the 2010 Electoral Act as amended and that he was not qualified to contest the election which he was returned winner not on valid votes among other reasons.
Delivering the lead judgment on behalf of the five-man panel, Hon. Justice A.O Otisi acknowledged that Lalong at some points used several names on his certificates but said there is no legislation in Nigeria that restricted an individual to bear certain names throughout his entire life. Justice Otisi said that the appellant did not allege that the school certificates presented by the 2nd respondent (Lalong) are not his own and that he had sworn an affidavit to change his name from Sule Bako Lalong to Simon Bako Lalong.
On the issue of certificate forgery on Form CF001, Justice Otisi said it is a criminal matter that the appellant failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt.
“In conclusion of the matter, all the issues raised in the Appeal have been resolved against the appellants and uphold the judgment of the tribunal delivered on October 2, 2019 and award a cost of N200,000 against the appellants.”
Counsel to Useni, Ozekhome, SAN, who was represented by Edward Gyang Pwajok, SAN rejected the judgment and said they were going to Supreme Court in Abuja to contest the ruling.