Tambuwal, Ganduje, Lalong win first round at election tribunals

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*Lalong, Ganduje, Tambuwal


The governorship election petitions tribunals in Sokoto, Kano and Plateau states on Wednesday affirmed the elections of Messrs Aminu Tambuwal, Abdullahi Ganduje and Simon Lalong as governors of Sokoto, Kano and Plateau states respectively.

Tambuwal won the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while Ganduje and Lalong won on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform.

In its ruling yesterday, delivered in Sokoto, the tribunal dismissed the petition filed against Tambuwal’s election by the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Ahmed Aliyu, for being incompetent and lacking merit.

Aliyu and his party, the APC had in the petition challenged the return of Tambuwal as the duly-elected governor of the state.

The petition was predicated mainly on alleged over-voting and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of the governorship election in the state.

However, the three-man panel led by Justice Abbas Abdullahi in the unanimous judgment held that the petition lacked merit.

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Abbas Abdullahi, the panel held that the petitioners failed to prove allegations of over-voting and other electoral matters.

The panel in dismissing the petition held that relevant witnesses were not called while those who testified based their evidence on hearsay.

The tribunal also held that witnesses’ statements recorded in Hausa and translated into English language by an interpreter were not tendered, adding that their evidence during cross-examination was at variance with pleadings in the translated statement.

Worse still, the tribunal chairman held that the witnesses discredited their own evidence when they admitted during hearing that they were seeing their witness depositions in court for the first time.

Justice Abdullahi, in the judgment, rejected some of the documentary evidence tendered by the petitioners on the grounds that the documents were not properly certified as required by law.

Having resolved all issues against the petitioners due to inability to substantiate their allegations as required by law, the tribunal said that it had no choice than to dismiss the petition for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

Tambuwal, who contested the election for his second tenure, was declared the winner by INEC after the commission announced that he had polled 512, 002 votes to defeat Aliyu with 511,660 votes indicating a margin of only 342 votes after a rerun election was conducted on March 23.

INEC had declared the March 9 election inconclusive after it announced that a total of 75, 403 votes were canceled.

The figure exceeded the margin between the two highest scorers at the main election which was 3, 413 votes.

The APC has vowed to challenge the tribunal’s decision describing as a travesty of justice.

In Kano, the tribunal while upholding Ganduje’s election dismissed PDP’s petition, in which its candidate, Abba Kabir Yusuf, had challenged the verdict of the March 23 governorship election.

Delivering judgment, the three-man panel chaired by Justice Halima Shamaki, upheld Ganduje as the duly elected and held that PDP failed to prove all the allegations against him.

“It is only when a petitioner proves his case before the tribunal that he will have a case, the petitioners failed to prove the exact number of valid votes in each polling units,” she said.

In a unanimous judgment, the tribunal struck out some paragraphs of the petition because they were just speculations and held that the petitioners failed to give the number of votes for the March 9 election by tendering certified true copies of result sheets.

“Some local government areas results like Wudil, Magwan, Nasarawa and Gama Ward presented were not stamped, apart from that they were not true certified copies,” she said.

Shamaki said the Gama Ward result presented was written with pen, which was carted away by the petitioners.

She also said that since results were carted away in some polling units leading to over-voting, INEC had to order for a rerun according to the Electoral Act, as amended.

“The petitioners failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law,” Shamaki said.

Addressing journalists after the judgement, PDP chairman in the state, Rabiu Suleiman Bichi, said the party would appeal the tribunal’s resolution, insisting that it would exhaust all legal means to redeem its victory.

Bichi, who cautioned party supporters to remain calm and law abiding pending the final determination of the suit at the upper courts, stressed that the tribunal’s ruling could be faulted.

In Plateau State, the tribunal affirmed the election of Lalong and dismissed the petition of PDP candidate, Senator Jeremiah Useni.

In the petition, Useni and PDP had prayed the tribunal to declare them winners of the election, alleging the disparity in the names supplied by Lalong in Form CF001.

Delivering judgment, the panel of three justices, led by Justice Halima Salami, held that the petitioners did not adequately prove their case.

The tribunal held that the information made in Form CF001 by Lalong bordering on the disparity of name, was not fundamental in nature.

The tribunal also held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of electoral irregularities bordering on falsifications of results and over voting against Lalong and the APC.

Reacting to the judgment, Lalong described it as a victory for the entire people of the state and an affirmation of the mandate freely given to him in the last general election.

In a statement by his director of press and public affairs, Dr. Makut Simon Macham, the governor said tribunal’s ruling spoke of the unshaken confidence the electorate demonstrated when they massively voted for him and the APC.

Also speaking after the ruling, counsel for the PDP and Useni, Mr. Edward Pwajok said they were not satisfied with the verdict and would appeal the judgement.

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