By: Valentine Adese (JP),
The Court of Appeal, Jos Division has reserved Judgment in Appeal No. CA/J/EPT/PL/NA/HR/384/2019, filed by Hon. Timothy Golu and the PDP challenging the judgment of the National and State Houses of Assembly Tribunal, which sat in Jos, Plateau State, over the election for Member House of Representatives for Pankshin/ Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency, Plateau State.
Hon. Timothy Golu and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have asked the Court of Appeal, to up hold the finding of the trial Tribunal, which declared the election in Kanam LGA as inconclusive.
While the 1st Respondent, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, the 2nd Respondent, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the 3rd Respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on their parts, have urged the Court to dismiss the Appeal, and uphold the decision of the trial Tribunal.
In his adumbration, while moving the Appeal, Solomon Umoh (SAN), Counsel to the Appellants, urged the Court of Appeal to up hold the finding of the Lower Tribunal that declared the election of Kanam as inconclusive, saying that:-
“From the printed records as per the judgment of the trial Tribunal, especially, at page 120 of the said judgment contained at pages 984 of the Records, the Tribunal found and held that the Petitioners successfully pleaded and proved that the election in Kanam LGA was declared inconclusive, yet, in what may be likened to a dramatic U-turn, the Tribunal at page 120 of its Judgment held thus:-
The sum total of the foregoing is that while the Petitioners successfully pleaded and proved that the election in Kanam LGA was declared inconclusive by the Returning Officer, they failed to specify what action, if any, the 3rd Respondent (INEC) ought to have taken and the effect of the non-compliance on the outcome of the election, if any. The facts pleaded in respect of the declaration of the election in Kanam LGA as inconclusive were thus insufficient.
“It is submitted therefore without any fear of equivocation that the finding of the Trial Tribunal that the Petitioners failed to specify what action, if any, the 3rd Respondent ought to have taken and the effect of any non-compliance on the outcome of the election, if any, was clearly perverse, as it totally undermined the essence of setting up the Tribunal, which was for intervention in the pursuit of justice once a petitioner has made out a case for such intervention according to Law.
“Furthermore, the finding of the Tribunal in another breadth that the facts pleaded in respect of the declaration of the election in Kanam local Government Area, as inconclusive, were insufficient is to say the least perverse and ought to be set aside.
“Curiously the Tribunal after finding that the Petitioners had pleaded and proved their case as regards the inconclusive election in Kanam LGa, shockingly, threw their hands up in the air in helplessness and to justify their refusal to intervene turned around to say that the facts pleaded in respect of the declaration of the election in Kanam, as inconclusive is insufficient. The later thought process of the Tribunal as is apparent from their findings was perverse and ought to be set aside.
“We urge Your Lordships to so hold.
“On what a perverse finding is, the Courts in a plethora of decided cases have held that a perverse finding is a finding of fact which is merely speculative and not based on evidence before the Court. A perverse finding is an unreasonable and unacceptable finding because, it is wrong and completely outside the evidence before the trial judge.
“Please see the case of Iwuoha and Another Vs. NIPOST LTD & ANOR (2003) LPELR-1569 (SC) where the Supreme Court held thus:-
“A perverse finding, this Court held in Overseas Construction Company Nig Ltd v. Creek Enterprises (Nig) Ltd (1985) 3 NWLR (pt.13) 407 is a finding of facts which is merely speculative and an unreasonable and unacceptable finding because it is wrong and completely outside the evidence before the trial judge.”
“In the instant case, the finding of the trial Tribunal referred to above is speculative and same ought to be set aside.
“We submit therefore that the said finding is perverse and we urge Your Lordships to so hold.”