Appeal court affirms Lalong’s victory, Useni heads to S/Court

Simon Lalong, Governor of Plateau State:

The Court of Appeal sitting in Jos on Friday affirmed the victory of Plateau Governor Simon Lalong in the March 9 supplementary elections.

PDP’s candidate. Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni (rtd), has, however rejected the verdict and vowed to appeal against it at the apex court.

The 5-member penal of the appellate court, which upheld the decision of the Justice H.A. Suleman-led Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, ruled that Useni failed to prove his allegations of forgery and electoral irregularities against Lalong and INEC respectively.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Useni had claimed that Lalong was not qualified to contest the election having held three certificates with three different names and therefore guilty of forgery.
He also claimed that the election was marred with malpractices and irregularities.

Useni, through his lead counsel, Chief Mike Ezekhome (SAN), had asked the appellate court to decide in his favour his appeal against the judgement of the lower court and declare him winner of the March 9 supplementary election.

But the penal, in its judgment, declared Lalong winner of that election on the ground that Useni and PDP “could not prove the allegations of forgery against Lalong nor the allegations of electoral irregularities against INEC”.

The court said that the four issues – qualification, forgery, malpractices and breach of Electoral Act -which were put forward for determination, were all decided in favour of Lalong and INEC.

“This appeal has therefore failed in its entirety and judgment is hereby entered in favour of the 2nd respondent (Lalong),” the panel declared.

Speaking shortly after the judgment, Mr Edward Pwajok (SAN), one of Useni’s Counsels, told newsmen that “our client has instructed us to appeal this judgment of the appellate court at the Supreme Court.

“It is our conviction that we shall succeed with our appeal at the Supreme Court and reclaim the stolen mandate of our client,” Pwajok stated.

Also speaking, Mr Garba Pwul (SAN), Counsel to APC, said that there was nothing wrong in Useni’s decision to head to the Supreme Court.

“We are not surprise about their decision to appeal this judgment; it is their right to do so and we are not opposing nor afraid at all.

“What we want the people of Plateau to know is that Lalong will still emerge victorious at the Supreme Court, period,”Pwul boasted.