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

Delivering judgment on the matter on Thursday, the court expunged from its records the evidence…

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Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule
Governor, Abdullahi Sule

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Thursday affirmed the victory of the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule.

VerseNews reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Sule of the All Progressives Congress the winner of the election, while David Ombugadu of the Peoples Democratic Party came second.

But the state election petition tribunal led by Justice Ezekiel Ajayi in a split judgment held that based on evidence from the various polling units, Ombugadu had the majority of valid votes at the election

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But Sule appealed the judgment and asked the appellate court to set it aside.

Delivering judgment on the matter on Thursday, the court expunged from its records the evidence and exhibits from PWs 5, 6,7,8,12,13,20, and 21 which the tribunal relied on.

Reading the lead judgment, Justice Uchechukwu Onuemenam, held that the statements of the witnesses were not front-loaded.

The court noted that Section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Section 132(7) of the Electoral Act 2022, and Paragraphs 4(5) (6) and 14(2) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, state that written statements on oath must be filed alongside the petition within the simulated time.

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“Where a trial court admitted and acted on an illegally inadmissible evidence, it is the duty of the appellate court to ensure that such illegally inadmissible evidence is expunged, ” she held.

According to her, the remaining statements and evidence from PWs1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 22 cannot sustain the judgment of the tribunal.

Also, the court ruled that the tribunal was wrong to have deducted 1,868 votes from the governor’s votes based on the allegation of over-voting in four polling units.

“A party alleging over-voting must present voter registers in the affected polling units, BVAS machine, and Form EC8. The petitioners merely dumped their evidence on the tribunal without showing how over-voting occurred ,“ she said.

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The appellate court also faulted the decision of the tribunal in summarily dismissing evidence and testimonies of RW 1 to 22 which was called by the governor.

She said, “It is perverse, and as the tribunal didn’t give reasons for its findings. A court must give reasons of fact for arriving at its findings. I resolve the issue in favour of the appellant. ”

The appellate court held that the tribunal acted wrongly when it re-computed votes and made the declaration that returned the PDP candidate as the winner of the election.

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“The appeal has merit and succeeds. It is hereby allowed. The tribunal’s judgment is dismissed. I set aside the majority order of the tribunal,” the court held.

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