In a split judgement of two to one, the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Kaduna, has upheld the victory of Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State in the last governorship election.
While two of the judges ruled in favour of a rerun election in some local government areas, the lead judge opted to declare the governor the winner of the contest.
Consequently, the tribunal declared the governor winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election on the ground that the petition by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was filed out of the pre-hearing time and that the petitioner failed to prove that the poll was rigged.
Governor Sani contested the election under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
His victory at the election was challenged by Isah Ashiru of the PDP.
The three-member panel led by Victor Oviawe declared that the PDP and its candidate could not validate their claim that the election was rigged.
The verdict was announced via Zoom yesterday.
The tribunal chairman and another member held that the appeal brought by the PDP and Mr Ashiru wasn’t meritorious because the filing of the pre-hearing notice “was abandoned and out of time, and therefore had dealt the entire petition a fatal blow.”
However, the tribunal noted that if the petition had not been dismissed for lack of merit, it would have ordered a supplementary election in 22 polling units within 90 days.
The PDP and Ashiru alleged that there were massive irregularities and manipulation of results in favour of Mr Sani in some local governments.
They insisted that Governor Sani did not score the highest number of valid votes cast in the election and ought not to have been returned the winner of the election.
At the last sitting of the court on 3 September, all parties presented their final written addresses before the tribunal, with APC’s legal team led by a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo, arguing that the petitioners had in fact helped to prove that his client won the election free and fair.
He pointed in particular to the admission of one of the petitioner’s witnesses, Bonett Gwazah, a senior system analyst in the VR/ICT department of the INEC in Kaduna State.
The PDP, however, argued that two conflicting election results emerged from INEC.
The party’s legal team led by Oluwole Iyamu, SAN, accused INEC of manipulating the election results in favour of Gov Sani.