Supreme Court Reserves Judgement on Nasarawa Governorship - The Top Society

Supreme Court Reserves Judgement on Nasarawa Governorship

HANNAH ONI

Adewale Ajayi

 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last governorship election in Nasarawa State, David Ombugadu seeking to void the election of Abdullahi Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor of Nasarawa state.

After lawyers to parties have made their final submissions, a five-member panel of the apex court led by Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, announced that judgment was reserved and parties would be notified when a date is fixed.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Sule as winner of the election with 347,209 votes.

Ombugadu, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polled second with 283,016 votes.

However, the PDP candidate had expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome of the governorship election, citing alleged irregularities.

On October 2, the election petition tribunal in Lafia nullified Sule’s victory and declared Ombugadu as winner of the poll.

Consequently, Sule and the APC sought to overturn the verdict of the tribunal.

The court of appeal in its judgment on November 23, faulted the verdict of the tribunal and affirmed Sule’s election as governor.

Delivering judgment, Uchechukwu Onuemenam, who read the lead verdict, held that evidence before it showed that the tribunal relied on legally inadmissible evidence to declare Ombugadu as winner of the March 18 poll.

According to the appellate court, the tribunal wrongly relied on the evidence of eight of the PDP witnesses, whose statements on oath were not front-loaded alongside the petition.

The appellate court further held that Section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended; Section 132(7) of the Electoral Act 2022 and Paragraphs 4(5) (6) and 14(2) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act; stipulates that every written statement on oath must be filed alongside the petition, within the statutorily allocated time.

The appellate court proceeded to strike out all the evidence and exhibits that were tendered before the tribunal by the eight witnesses.

It held that the evidence of 12 remaining witnesses, who testified for the PDP candidate, were not sufficient to sustain the judgment of the tribunal.

Furthermore, the appellate court held that the tribunal erred when it deducted a total of 1,868 votes that were credited to the APC candidate on the grounds that over-voting occurred in four polling units.

The court said the petitioners failed to provide the necessary documents needed to prove over-voting.

Appeal court reverses tribunal verdict, affirms Abdullahi Sule as Nasarawa governor

 

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