Guber elections: Tribunals deliver landmark judgements, as fear grips LP over Abia

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Governorship Election Petition Tribunals delivered what could be called landmark judgements across the States over the week.

So far, only one governor was axed by the tribunal. Others had their victories validated, at latest for now.

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, secured victory in some states.

MAGIC FM recalls that the tribunal, last week, upheld the victory of the PDP in Plateau, Bauchi, Enugu and Zamfara States, dismissing the petitions filed before it by the APC and the Labour Party.

In Plateau, the tribunal affirmed the election of Governor Caleb Mutfwang as the duly elected governor of the State.

A three-member panel of the tribunal led by Justice Sunday dismissed the petition filed by APC and its Governorship candidate, Nentawe Yiltwatda for lacking in merit.

Similarly, the court affirmed the election of Senator Bala Mohammed as the duly elected governor of Bauchi State. The judgement was delivered by the three-man panel headed by P.T Kwahar.

The panel dismissed the petition of APC and its candidate, Sadique Abubakar, a former Chief of Air Staff, challenging the re-election of Mohammed for a second term.

MAGIC FM also recalls that the PDP also retained its victory in Enugu as the tribunal upheld the election of Governor Peter Mbah.

The three-member panel of the tribunal led by Justice Kudirat Murayo dismissed the petitions of the Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, insisting that they could not prove their petitions.

In Zamfara State, the tribunal dismissed the petition by the APC and its governorship candidate, Bello Matawalle, challenging the declaration of Dauda Lawal of PDP as the winner of the 18 March governorship election.

The tribunal declared that APC failed to prove the allegation of exclusion of the results from Maradun Local Government and that the election was not conducted in some wards in the State.

APC on the other hand, reclaimed power from the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, in Kano State and also retained its victory in Benue State.

In Benue, the tribunal dismissed the petition of the PDP and its governorship candidate, Titus Uba, challenging the outcome of the March 18 gubernatorial election which produced Governor Hyacinth Alia as winner.

More shocking in the recent verdicts declared by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in some states was the sacking of NNPP in Kano State.

In what looks like a twist of fate, the NNPP lost its only governorship seat to the ruling party in Kano as the tribunal sacked Governor Yusuf Abba and declared Nasir Gawuna of APC winner of the March 18 poll.

The three-member panel of judges led by Oluyemi Asadebay delivered the judgement on Wednesday virtually allegedly for security purposes. The court invalidated over 165,663 votes cast in favour of NNPP.

The court deducted the invalid votes stating that the ballot papers (165,663) were not stamped or signed and were therefore invalid.

The tribunal said the petitioner has proven the allegation of the invalidity of some of the votes cast on the ground that the election was not in compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act, 2022.

MAGIC FM learnt that the development in Kano State has triggered palpable tension in Abia State where the ruling Party is also seeking to truncate the victory of the incumbent governor, Alex Otti of the Labour Party.

It was gathered that the Abia State Petition Election Tribunal had fixed October 6, 2023, to deliver judgement on the petition challenging the declaration of Mr Otti as winner of March 18.

The governorship candidate of APC, Chief Ikechi Emenike, had approached the court to seek the sack of Otti, over allegations of non-resignation of his membership of the ruling party before joining the Labour Party prior to the 2023 general elections.

The APC candidate also alleged that Otti’s name was not in the Labour Party register before his nomination as the party’s governorship candidate in the state.

Also joined in the petition were the candidates of the PDP, Okey Ahaiwe; the Young Progressives Party, Nana Nwafor and the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The apprehension may not be unconnected to the fact that the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia recently sacked three House of Representatives members elected on the platform of the Labour Party.

Abia State Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr Ceekay Igara told Newsmen on Saturday that the ruling party is allegedly making all efforts to truncate Otti’s victory.

He said, “It is like APC has bought the court because they struck out a document and later when they were rounding up, they exhumed the case about the same document which they earlier struck out.

“Now, the judges are relying on that case and these are issues that have been settled in the appeal court.

“It is obvious that the court has already given all our seats to them. Apart from the governorship seat, they have given all the senatorial and House of Rep seats to the oppositions.”

He, however, expressed optimism that the governor would win the battle in court.

“I think he will win. One thing is certain, you cannot shave a man’s hair in his absence. They cannot judge based on any other thing apart from what was presented to them. I was also a witness in most of the cases.

“All the cases were centred on election matters before they brought the issue of NYSC. I’m sure they can’t do anything outside that,” he said.

However, in a counter reaction, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of PDP told Newsmen that the party is expecting the sacking of Governor Otti.

According to him, PDP “presented a good case in Abia and we are expecting the tribunal to deliver a good judgement in our favour”.

Speaking on PDP’s victory in Zamfara, Bauch, Enugu and Plateau, Debo said the judgements were in line with the choices the electorates made during the election.

He said, “Like you always hear from the presidential candidate of our party, we respect the judges and their judgements so we welcome their verdicts.

“They are in line with what took place at the polling units on the day of election.

“We celebrate that because that is the will of the people.”

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