The Gombe State Governorship Election Tribunal, yesterday dismissed the petitions filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), challenging the re-election of Governor Muhammadu InuwaYahaya of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on March 18 declared Governor Inuwa Yahaya of the APC having scored 342,821 votes as winner of the March 18 Governorship Election.
He defeated the close contender, Muhammad Jibrin Barde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 233,131.
Daily Trust reports that Barde and Nafiu Bala of the ADC, have challenged the victory of Governor Yahaya, alongside his Deputy, Dr. Manassah Daniel Jatau, over alleged malpractice and rigging.
The three-man panel, presided by Justice S.B. Belgore, in its unanimous judgment dismissed both the two petitions for lack of merit.
The tribunal stated that the petition filed by the PDP and its candidate, is vague, nebulous, lacking in particularity, baseless, and an academic exercise.
The PDP had alleged that Yahaya was not re-elected by a majority of the lawful votes, alleging that multiple thumb printing and ballot box stuffing were carried out across various polling units in nine out of the 11 local government areas of the state to favour Governor Inuwa Yahaya.
However, the tribunal struck out the petition due to the failure of petitioners to provide witnesses to prove their case.
On the ADC’s petition, Justice S.B Belgore said that the petition filed by the ADC and its candidate lacked merit, and was dismissed accordingly.
Our correspondent reports that the ADC was challenging the declaration and return of Inuwa Yahaya over alleged multiplicity and variations in the arrangement of names on the certificates of his deputy, Dr Jatau without accompanying affidavits to prove authenticity.
The court struck the matter, saying it was a pre-election issue and that the deputy had met the minimum requirement to run.
On the ADCs allegations on voters’ inducement, corrupt practices and noncompliance with the electoral act, the tribunal held that the allegations were mere academic exercise, saying the petitioner failed to identify or mention a single case in point where such alleged infraction took place.
Reacting, Governor Yahaya described the judgment as a victory for democracy and a resounding affirmation of people’s will and trust in his leadership, describing the verdict as a call to greater service.
The governor extended an olive branch to members of the opposition, saying “Gombe is for all, and in the spirit of unity and progress, there are no victors and no vanquished. Together, we shall continue to build a better Gombe for everyone.”
However, lead counsel to Jibril Barde and PDP, Johnson Suleiman (SAN), said they have applied for the certified true copy of the judgment, to enable them to study it thoroughly and advise their client appropriately.