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Tribunal upholds election of Kebbi Gov

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Birnin Kebbi on Thursday upheld the election of Gov. Nasir Idris as duly elected Governor of Kebbi. The News…

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Birnin Kebbi on Thursday upheld the election of Gov. Nasir Idris as duly elected Governor of Kebbi.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the panel of judges comprised Justice Ofem Ofem, Justice Dauraba Suleiman-Sikkom and Justice Celestina Dafe.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Gen. Aminu Bande, had filed a joint suit challenging the election of Idris as governor in the March 15 election and April 18 rerun.

NAN reports that the INEC is the first respondent; Gov. Nasir Idris, second respondent; Deputy Gov., Abubakar Umar-Tafida, third respondent and APC is the fourth respondent.

The petitioners alleged that the deputy governor had submitted a fake secondary school testimonial to INEC, overvoting and ineligibility of the governor to contest.

Delivering the judgment, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ofem, held that the petitions were lacking in merit to warrant cancellation of the election.

Taking the allegations one after the other, Ofem said the petitioners failed to prove beyond doubt that the third respondent presented a fake certificate to INEC, adding that the testimonial in question was duly signed and issued to him by the then principal of Sultan Abubakar College, Sokoto in 1982 as attested by the authorities concerned.

He, however, said testimonial was in no way an academic qualification but a certificate of attendance while quoting section 177 of the Electoral Act that provided minimum qualification for governor and deputy governor.

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

On overvoting, Ofem said of the 59 polling units being questioned, irregularities were discovered in nine polling units, resulting in the deduction of 1,735 votes from APC while over 900 votes were deducted from PDP.

He, however, said the deduction of the votes would not affect the merging between the winner of the election and the runner-up.

The chairman added that in other polling units, there was no substantial evidence to prove overvoting and irregularities, assuring that their votes stood.

Ofem further maintained that the petitioners had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the governor did not retire from state civil service one month before contesting the March 2023 governorship election.

He, therefore, declared that “Gov. Nasir Idris is duly elected and returned as Governor of Kebbi State in the March governorship election held across the state”.

Commenting on the judgment shortly after the sitting, counsel to the petitioners, Nura Bello, said they would go back and study the judgment and take a stand.

On his side, Lead Counsel to the fourth respondent, APC, Abdullahi Yahaya, SAN, expressed satisfaction with the stand of the panel of judges, describing it as a standard judicial process. (NAN)

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