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Monday, February 26, 2024

Supreme Court reserves judgment on Kebbi gov poll

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The Supreme Court has reserved judgment on the Kebbi State governorship election dispute between Nasir Idris of the All Progressives Congress and Aminu Bande of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The five-man panel led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun reserved the judgment after the parties in the petition adopted their processes.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, the respondents’ counsel urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit and uphold the judgments of the lower courts that upheld the election.

A statement signed and made available to newsmen by the spokesman to the governor, Ahmed Idris, said the appellant lawyers while adopting their processes urged the apex court to find merit in the appeal.

Recall that the Court of Appeal Abuja had upheld the election of Governor Nasir Idris of Kebbi State.

The three-member panel of the court of appeal, in a unanimous judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the PDP and its candidate, Bande, for lack of merit.

The court, in a judgment delivered by Ndukwe Anyannwu, resolved all the five issues formulated for determination in favour of the governor and against the PDP with its candidate.

The court held that the appellants failed to establish all the allegations brought up against the governor in their petition.

It held that the allegations of forgery of testimonial brought against the deputy governor of the state, Abubakar Tafida, could not be established as required by law.

It also held that the issues of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election could not stand because the appellants failed to prove how the allegations substantially affected the poll.

The court, consequently, affirmed the judgment of the Kebbi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which had on 5 October 2023, affirmed Idris as the duly elected governor.

The three-member tribunal dismissed the petition by the PDP and its governorship candidate, Bande.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared the March 18 Kebbi governorship election inconclusive owing to “massive vote cancellation and overvoting” in 20 of the 21 Local Government Areas in the state.

The commission later fixed 15 April for a supplementary election.

At the end of the exercise, Idris of the APC scored 409,225 votes to beat Bande, who got 360,940 votes.

Bande and his party rejected the result and filed a petition before the tribunal.

In the petition, the petitioners alleged that there was over-voting in some polling units and that Mr Idris was not qualified to contest the poll.

They also alleged that the deputy governor had submitted a fake secondary school testimonial to INEC.

However, in the judgment, Ofem Ofem, the chairman of the tribunal, held that the petitioners failed to prove beyond doubt that the third respondent (deputy governor) presented a fake certificate to INEC.

Ofem added that the evidence presented showed that the testimonial in question was duly signed and issued to him by the then principal of Sultan Abubakar College, Sokoto in 1982.

The tribunal chairman described the documents presented by the petitioners as “iron cast evidence” saying, “We state categorically that the third respondent did not forge certificate”.

On the issue of over-voting, Mr Ofem said out of the 59 polling units being questioned, irregularities were discovered in nine.

The chairman, however, said the deduction of the votes would not affect the margin between the election winner and the first runner-up. He added that there was no substantial evidence to prove over-voting and irregularities in other polling units.

Punch

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