Throughout the States this week, Governorship Election Petition Tribunals issued what may be described as landmark verdicts.
Only one governor has been removed from office by the tribunal so far. The successes of others were affirmed, at least temporarily.
Some states went to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Last Monday, the tribunal confirmed the PDP’s victories in the states of Plateau, Bauchi, Enugu, and Zamfara, despite complaints from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party (LP).
The tribunal in Plateau upheld Caleb Mutfwang’s status as the lawfully elected governor of the state.
The petition submitted by APC and its Governorship candidate, Nentawe Yiltwatda, was found to be without merit, and the three-member tribunal panel chaired by Justice Sunday dismissed the petition.
The court also upheld Senator Bala Mohammed’s legitimacy as governor of Bauchi State. The three-person panel led by P.T. Kwahar reached its verdict.
APC and its nominee, Sadique Abubakar, a former Chief of Air Staff, filed a petition challenging Mohammed’s re-election, but the panel rejected it.
In addition, the election of Governor Peter Mbah was affirmed by the tribunal, which InfoStride News notes was a success for the PDP in Enugu.
The Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, had their petitions dismissed by a three-member tribunal panel chaired by Justice Kudirat Murayo, who insisted that the petitions could not be proven.
The tribunal in Zamfara State ruled against the All Progressives Congress and its governorship candidate Bello Matawalle, who had challenged the PDP’s declaration of Dauda Lawal as the winner of the governorship election held on March 18.
The tribunal ruled that APC did not provide sufficient evidence to support its claims that the election was not held in several wards in the State and that the results from Maradun Local Government were excluded.
Kano State was taken back from the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), and APC held on to its victory in Benue State.
The tribunal in Benue that heard the appeal filed by the PDP and its candidate for governor, Titus Uba, disputing the results of the gubernatorial election held on March 18 and declaring Governor Hyacinth Alia the winner, rejected the petition.
The dismissal of NNPP in Kano State was even more startling than the recent findings given by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in several states.
In a bizarre turn of events, the tribunal dismissed Governor Yusuf Abba and pronounced APC candidate Nasir Gawuna the winner of the governorship election held on March 18. This effectively handed Kano over to the ruling party, the APC.
On Wednesday, for purported safety reasons, a three-judge panel led by Oluyemi Asadebay issued their verdict. More than 165,663 pro-NNPP ballots were thrown out by the court.
The court threw out 165,663 ballots because they weren’t properly stamped or signed, rendering them invalid.
The petitioner’s claim that some votes cast were unlawful because the election did not follow the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 was upheld by the judgment.
According to InfoStride News, the ruling Party in Abia State is also trying to shorten the win of the Labour Party’s current governor, Alex Otti, as a result of the developments in Kano State.
The Abia State Election case Tribunal has reportedly set October 6, 2023, as the date by which it must rule on the case contesting Mr. Otti’s declaration as winner on March 18.
Chief Ikechi Emenike, the APC’s candidate for governor, went to court to have Otti removed from office on the grounds that he had not resigned from the ruling party before switching to the opposition Labour Party in time for the 2023 elections.
Moreover, the APC candidate claimed that Otti’s name was not in the Labour Party registration before he was nominated as the party’s candidate for governor of the state.
Okey Ahaiwe, a candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Nana Nwafor, a candidate for the Young Progressives Party (YPP), and the Independent National Electoral Commission all signed on to the petition.
This fear may have something to do with the recent dismissal of three Labour Party representatives elected to the House of Representatives by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia.
On Saturday, Mr. Ceekay Igara, the chairman of the Labour Party in Abia State, told the media that the ruling party is supposedly doing everything it can to prevent Otti from becoming president.
He claimed, “It is as though APC has purchased the court because they struck out a document and then when they were rounding up, they revived the case over the same document which they had previously knocked out.
The appeals court has already ruled on these questions, and the judges are now relying on that precedent.
It’s plain to see that the court has already appointed them to every one of our open positions. All of the seats in the Senate and House of Representatives have been handed over to the opposition, with the exception of the governorship.
In spite of this, he was confident that the governor would prevail in court.
I believe he will prevail. You can’t shave a man’s hair without him being present, that much is certain. They have no basis for making a decision beyond the evidence at hand. For the most part, I served as a witness as well.
Before they brought up NYSC, all the cases centered on electoral issues. I highly doubt they have any capabilities beyond that,” he said.
Hon. Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of PDP, responded by telling the media that his party fully expects Governor Otti to be removed from office.
His party, the PDP, “presented a good case in Abia, and we are expecting the tribunal to deliver a good judgement in our favor,” he said.
When asked about the PDP’s victories in the states of Zamfara, Bauchi, Enugu, and Plateau, Debo noted that the rulings reflected the will of the voters.
“Like you always hear from the presidential candidate of our party, we respect the judges and their judgements, so we welcome their verdicts,” he stated.
That’s consistent with what we saw at the polling places on election day.
As the saying goes, “We celebrate that because that is the will of the people.”
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