Appeal Court Sets Aside Tribunal Judgement, Affirms Abdullahi Sule As Nasarawa Governor

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja has reversed the sack of the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule by the State Election Petitions Tribunal in its judgment delivered on October 2.

Delivering judgment, the three-member panel led by Justice Uchechukwu Onyemenam, held that the Tribunal was legally bound to act on witness statements filed along with the petition or front-loaded within 21 days stipulated by law.

The Appellate Court held that the Tribunal, led by Ezekiel Ajayi, acted in grave error in using witness statements on oath not front-loaded as required by law to arrive at the unjust conclusion of nullifying the election of the governor.

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The Court held that no petition can lawfully be amended outside the 21 days allowed by law as wrongly done by the Tribunal.

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According to the Court of Appeal, the Tribunal denied the governor a fair hearing by not considering and making findings on the issues of jurisdiction raised at the hearing of the petition.

Since the statements used by the Tribunal to sack the Governor were not front-loaded in compliance with the law, the court held that the statements were the product of illegality with no probate value for a law Court to act upon.

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The Court also dismissed the over-voting issues used to annul the election, adding that allegations were not established by law.

Justice Onyemenam held that the petition by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), David Ombugadu, was null and invalid on the ground that the jurisdictional issues raised by the governor were unlawfully ignored by the Tribunal.

Justice Onyemenam agreed that the denial of a fair hearing against the governor was fatal and tendered all decisions of the Tribunal invalid.

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The Court subsequently reversed all orders made against the governor and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and affirmed Sule as the lawfully elected governor of the state.

INEC had declared Sule the winner of the governorship election on the grounds that he polled a total of 347,209 votes to defeat his closest opponent David Emmanuel Ombugadu who secured 283,016 votes.

But in a split decision on October 2, the tribunal nullified Sule’s election and upheld Ombugadu as the winner. (Channels)

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