The Sokoto State Governorship Election Tribunal on Wednesday afffirmed the election of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the validly elected governor of Sokoto state.
The three-member panel presided over by Justice Abbas Abdullahi dismissed the petition filed by Ahmed Aliyu, the All Progressives candidate i the election, challenging Tambuwal’s election.
The tribunal held that Tambuwal’s election was valid.
The tribunal, which sat at the Wuse Zone 2 Magistrate court was relocated from Sokoto State over alleged security reasons.
The tribunal held that the petitioner failed to prove the allegations made against the credibility of the election.
Consequently, the tribunal affirmed the declaration of Tambuwal as the valid winner of the governorship election that held in the state on March 9.
The tribunal held that since the result declared by INEC enjoyed a presumption of regularity, the burden was on the petitioner to prove otherwise.
Before arriving at its final decision, the tribunal discarded some of the documentary evidence tendered by the petitioner on the grounds that they were not properly certified.
It equally noted that whereas some of the witnesses made their written statements in the Hausa language, the petitioner only tendered the version that was translated into the English language, in evidence.
In his lead judgement, the Chairman of the tribunal held that the petitioner was unable to prove any of the allegations in his petition.
Justice Abdullahi held that testimonies of most of the witnesses were based on hearsay evidence.
The tribunal further held that the witnesses brought by the petitioner failed to establish the case of over- voting and substantial non compliance with the Electoral Act, 2011.
“Based on the evidence the witnesses brought before the tribunal, they failed to prove their cases and the tribunal does not need light to search for the truth, the petition is hereby dismissed,” the judge ruled.
He maintained that the APC candidate, having failed to discharge the burden of proof that was placed on him by the law, his petition was bound to be dismissed.
Other members of the panel that concurred with the lead verdict of the tribunal were Justices E.N. Anyadike and Kadi M.A. Oniye.
It will be recalled that the Sokoto State governorship election was declared inconclusive after 75,403 votes were cancelled, a figure that was higher than the 3, 413 votes margin that governor Tambuwal led the other candidates with.
A re-run poll that was conducted on March 23, saw Tambuwal emerging victorious with a slim margin of 342 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome, Aliyu approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Tambuwal as the winner.
Aside from his contention that the election was marred by irregularities, the petitioner told the tribunal that Tambuwal and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, did not score the majority of the lawful votes cast.
urged the tribunal to either declare that the election as inconclusive, or to order the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh polls at polling units where results were cancelled.
He alleged that there were incidents of over-voting, non-compliance with the Electoral Act, illegal allocation of votes, mutilation and unlawful cancellation of results.
Both INEC and the PDP, failed to produce witnesses to defend the petition, saying they would rather rely on evidence they extracted from the petitioner’s witnesses during cross-examination.
However, in separate preliminary objections, all the respondents, challenged the validity of the petition, urging the tribunal to dismiss it for want of competence.
INEC, through its lawyer, Alhassan Umar, SAN, urged the tribunal to uphold the outcome of the election and declaration of Governor Tambuwal of the PDP as the winner.
Though Tambuwal who served as Speaker of House of Representatives, emerged Governor on the platform of the APC, he subsequently defected to the PDP to win his second term in office.
The tribunal had earlier, dismissed the objections raised against the petition by the respondents on the premise that the petition was validly filed before it.