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Appeal tribunal affirms Maikalangu as AMAC chair

The appeal tribunal sitting at the FCT High Court, Apo Abuja, has set aside the judgement of the election petition tribunal which declared Murtala Usman…

The appeal tribunal sitting at the FCT High Court, Apo Abuja, has set aside the judgement of the election petition tribunal which declared Murtala Usman Karshi, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the February 12, 2022 chairmanship election of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).

It affirmed the incumbent chairman of the council, Christopher Zaka Maikalangu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the election.

In a unanimous judgement by a 3-member panel led by Justice Suleiman Belgore, on Saturday, it described the lower tribunal’s judgement as not only perverse but evil.

It said the lower tribunal was wrong to have relied on evidence of Murtala Karshi’s APC who tendered a different election result sheet, form EC8A, and declared him as winner of the chairmanship poll, instead of relying on the original certified true copy of the result sheet, form EC8A tendered as evidence by the first respondent, Christopher Maikalangu of PDP. 

Justice Belgore said the appeal tribunal was fascinated with the way and manner the original certified true copy of the result was tendered by INEC.

He said the lower tribunal ought to have compared the result with the one tendered by Murtala Karshi’s APC but failed to do so and ended up nullifying the election of Maikalangu, who was duly declared by INEC as the winner of the election.

He said Murtala Karshi, who was under a duty to prove his claims at the lower tribunal, did not do so. He said he had failed woefully in his petition, adding that elections are won at the polling units, not the court.

“The lower tribunal decided to do a hatchet job by throwing away the baby with the bath water. And what is good for the goose, it is also said, is good for the gander.

“However, our duty as a court is to make judicial pronouncement based on what is right, as the law cannot command impossibility. The essence of justice is to do what is true and correct,” he said.

Justice Belgore, while ruling on a cross appeal over allegations of age falsification and certificate forgery by Karshi against Maikalangu, dismissed the suit, saying it was a pre-election matter. 

It will be recalled that a three-member panel of the FCT Election Petition Tribunal, which sat at the magistrate court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, led by Magistrate Muinat Olashade Oyekan, had in August, nullified the election of the AMAC chairman, Christopher Maikalangu Zaka, of PDP, and declared APC’s Murtala Usman Karshi, as the winner after scoring the highest number of votes cast at the election.

She ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Maikalangu and be presented to Usman Karshi, and for Karshi to be sworn-in immediately by the FCT minister or any person acting on behalf of the minister.

The AMAC chairman, Maikalangu Zaka, who was dissatisfied with the judgement, filed an appeal at the appeal tribunal.