There was wild jubilation yesterday on the streets of Lafia, Nasarawa State capital, following the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal judgment which nullified the declaration of Governor Abdullahi Sule as winner of the March 18, 2023 gubernatorial poll.

The three-man panel of the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had earlier declared David Ombugadu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, winner of the election. The development has sparked widespread jubilation among residents of the state, especially Ombugadu’s supporters.

The three-man Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lafia had sacked Governor Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declared Dr. David Ombugadu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the majority votes in the governorship election.

Justices Chiemelie Onaga and Ezekiel Ajayi (chairman) held that while the petitioners presented valid subpoenaed evidence such as the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal and Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to prove their allegation of over-voting, the respondents only provided photocopies of results as evidence. The panel held that the decision of the two judges was based on the merit of the case as argued, and was in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

However, a dissenting judgment by Justice Ibrahim Mashi held that Ombugadu and the PDP did not prove that they won the election. He, therefore, ruled that the petitioners’ prayers should be dismissed.

Meanwhile, in Adamawa State, the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Yola declared Governor Ahmadu Fintiri as the winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship poll conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The governorship candidate of Social Democratic party (SDP), Dr. Umar Ardo, is seeking the nullification of the poll, alleging corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act by INEC.

While delivering judgment, yesterday, the panel of three justices headed by Justice Theodora Uloho dismissed the petition on the grounds that it lacked merit. Uloho, in her 51-page lead judgment that lasted two hours and forty-eight minutes, described Ardo’s petition as a skeleton without flesh.

Citing Section 4(1)d of the 2022 Electoral Act, the panel pointed out that the petitioner failed woefully to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act. The tribunal held that the petitioner was generic and speculative, pointing out that there were no documents attached to the petition to support the claims.

Justice Uloho said the petitioner lumped together the claims of corrupt practices and non-compliance without substantiating who committed the infractions. According to the panel, the petitioner did not submit any document or oral witness to prove that the election was marred with crisis, corrupt practices and non-compliance.

Citing Section 137 of the Electoral Act 2022, the tribunal stated that the burden of proof was solely on the shoulders of the petitioner. It also noted that no witness list or particulars of evidence were attached to the petition in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, saying that it rendered the petition impotent. The tribunal awarded N800,000 damages to the four respondents in the case.

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