Nasarawa: A‘Court upholds Gov.’s election after tribunal sack

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, affirmed the victory of the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule.

Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Sule, of the All-Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the election, while David Ombugadu, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second.

However, the State election petition tribunal, led by Justice Ezekiel Ajayi, in a split judgment held that based on evidence from the various polling units, Ombugadu had the majority of valid votes at the election. But Sule appealed the judgment and asked the appellate court to set it aside.

Delivering judgment on the matter yesterday, the court expunged from its records the evidence and exhibits from PWs 5, 6,7,8,12,13,20, and 21 which the tribunal relied on. Reading the lead judgment, Justice Uchechukwu Onuemenam, held that the statements of the witnesses were not front-loaded.

The court noted that Section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Section 132(7) of the Electoral Act 2022, and Paragraphs 4(5) (6) and 14(2) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, states that written statements on oath must be filed alongside the petition within the simulated time.

According to her, the remaining statements and evidence from PWs1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11,14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 22 cannot sustain the judgment of the tribunal. Also, the court ruled that the tribunal was wrong to have deducted 1,868 votes from the governor’s votes based on the allegation of over-voting in four polling units.

The appellate court also faulted the decision of the tribunal in summarily dismissing evidence and testimonies of RW-1 to 22, which was called by the governor. It held that the tribunal acted wrongly when it re-computed votes and made the declaration that returned the PDP candidate as the winner of the election.

“The appeal has merit, and succeeds. It is hereby allowed. The tribunal’s judgment is dismissed. I set aside the majority order of the tribunal”, the court held.

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