By Ebere Agozie
Abuja, March 16, 2023
The Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed Mr. Herman Hembe as the lawful governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Benue for the Saturday Governorship election.
Justice Heleen Ogunwumiju in a unanimous judgment of the court dismissed the disqualification request filed by Mr. Benjamin Lorlumum on the grounds that it lacked merit and legal backing.
The Apex Court dismissed all the appeals seeking disqualification of the respondent from the governorship race on various grounds.
Iorlumum a governorship aspirant from the same party and one other person had brought the appeal marked SC/CV/344/2023 against Hembe, LP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The grouse of the two appellants was that the LP governorship candidate was still a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as at the time he contested and won the gubernatorial primary election of the Labour Party.
The appellants specifically accused Hembe of double participation in primary elections organised by the APC and Labour Party on the same date and time and also for allegedly parading dual membership of both APC and LP.
They had prayed a Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal to invoke relevant laws to nullify the emergence of Hembe as a governorship candidate on the strength of their allegations.
Both the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal had dismissed the suit upon their findings of facts that the governorship candidate resigned from the APC before crossing over to Labour Party and won the gubernatorial primary election.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the two courts, Lorlumum moved to the Supreme Court, insisting that the two lower courts did not consider all the issues raised against Hembe especially with regard to membership of two political parties at the same time.
He had asked the apex court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered on February 10, and declare him the “sole candidate that participated in the Labour Party’s gubernatorial primary election held on June 9, 2022.
But the Supreme Court in its final judgment held that the respondent sufficiently proved that he resigned from the APC through affidavit evidence and letter of resignation.
Besides, Justice Ogunwumiju said that the law did not sanction participation in two primary elections once the participant was not in two political parties at the same time.
Ogunwumiju, while upholding the concurrent findings of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal said that there was no reason to upset the findings.
She subsequently dismissed the case of the appellant for lacking in merit and upheld the nomination of Hembe as lawful for Labour Party’s participation in the March 18 gubernatorial election in Benue State.