The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Kaduna State has upheld the victory of Governor Sani Uba.
Delivering judgement in a petition which the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Isah Mohammed Ashiru, filed to challenge the victory of Governor Uba Sani, the panel held that Sani was duly elected.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Sani, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), winner of the March 18 election.
But Ashiru and his party rejected the result and headed for the court.
The three-man panel led by Justice Victor Oviawe delivered judgement via Zoom on Thursday.
The panel struck out the petition because the preliminary notice was filed out of time.
Giving a split judgment, Justice Victor Oviawie said the preliminary notice was filed outside the seven days prescribed by the constitution from the day when the main case was filed, adding that the petition was deemed to be abandoned.
This judgment was also towed by Justice N. Nonye, while Justice K. Damlat differed, noting in his own verdict that the preliminary notice was properly filed and was not abandoned.
The Tribunal, a majority judgement supported by Justices K. Damlat and N. Nonye, said the petitioner was able to prove beyond doubt that the election was invalid in 22 polling units across four local government areas, adding that the number of registered voters who have collected their PVCs in the four local governments are more than the 10,806 votes margin with which Uba Sani defeated Isah Ashiru, thus the election was inconclusive.
The lead judge, Justice Victor Oviawie, however differed, as he believed that the allegations that the elections were invalid in those 22 polling units within four local governments were not proved beyond doubt.
CONFUSION FROM APC, PDP
There was confusion when many media outlets reported that Governor Sani had been sacked by the court and a rerun had been ordered in four Local Government Areas.
As the news trended, both camps laid claimed to victory.
Counsel to the APC, Sanusi Musa SAN, had said they were happy with the ruling, adding that they have no course to file any appeal as the judgment is in their favour.
According to him, “The summary of the judgement is simple. The tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by the PDP in the morning. But by the provision of the constitution, they are required to also consider the petition on merit, so on merit, two of them said that election supposed to be conducted in 22 polling units because the number of voters there exceed the margin of lead.
“The PDP wanted it declared as the winner of the election, the tribunal said that they have no proof. They alleged that they are corrupt practices perpetrated by APC, they say they have no proof. So in essence, as at today, the PDP petition is dismissed by the tribunal.
“Unless PDP appeal to the court of Appeal, then we will now know what will happen there, but the petition has been dismissed.
“If you’ve been in the tribunal since morning, there is a notice of preliminary objection which the tribunal ruled that the petition has been abandoned, so it is dismissed, but by the provision of the constitution, the Tribunal now will have determined the petition in merit.
“That is, assuming the Court of Appeal said it was wrong, then this is its decision on merit, but the main decision of the tribunal is that the petition is dismissed. That is the ruling of the tribunal by the first ruling delivered by the chairman and member one of the tribunal.”
Counsel to the PDP, Barr. Baba Aliyu, in his reaction said the court had declared the election inconclusive.
“Court has delivered the judgement directing that the election in Kaduna state is inconclusive and there should be a re-run election in about four local governments,” he said.
On the number of polling units involved, Aliyu said: “That we have to look at the details but it has to be in four local governments.”
Asked how the tribunal arrived at this judgement, he said: “It was based on facts placed before it. The court arrived at the decision based on the submissions and arguments of lawyers. The majority of the tribunal judges decided that the election was inconclusive and one judge affirmed the election. But, the majority of the tribunal said the election must be re-run because it was inconclusive.”
“One way or the other, we are still going to test the arm of judgement. It is okay. It is brilliant, because we believe that the materials we place before the court is sufficient. It even declared that our candidate was the winner of the election. PDP won the election. I cannot say we are satisfied or not satisfied, but I’m telling you that if we go to this re-run election, definitely we ar going to come out victorious.”
Both Sani and Ashiru also issued statements, claiming victory at the tribunal.