Nasarawa Guber: Court of Appeal Upholds Sule’s Election

The election of Abdullahi Sule, the Nasarawa State Governor which was overturned on October 2 by the State Election Petitions Tribunal has been reversed by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Judge Uchechukwu Onyemenam’s three-member panel rendered a decision, ruling that the Tribunal was constitutionally required to act on witness testimony submitted with the petition or front-loaded within the allotted 21-day period.

The Appellate Court determined that the Tribunal, headed by Ezekiel Ajayi, made a major mistake when it relied on under-oath witness testimonies that were not front-loaded following the law to reach the unfair conclusion that the governor’s election should be void.

The Court ruled that contrary to what the Tribunal incorrectly did, no petition may be legitimately revised beyond the 21 days permitted by law.

The Court of Appeal claims that by failing to take into account and rule on jurisdictional issues brought up during the petition hearing, the Tribunal deprived the governor of a fair trial.

The court ruled that the remarks were the result of illegality and had no probate value for a law court to act upon since the statements used by the Tribunal to remove the Governor were not front-loaded following the law.

The Court added that the claims made to nullify the election were not supported by the law and rejected the overvoting arguments as well.

The petition filed by David Ombugadu, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate for governor, was declared void and null by Justice Onyemenam because the Tribunal had illegally disregarded the jurisdictional concerns the governor had brought up.

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

Subsequently, the Court upheld Sule as the state’s legitimately elected governor and overturned all decisions made against the governor and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Meanwhile, Sule was declared the winner of the governorship election by the electoral umpire because he polled a total of 347,209 votes to defeat his closest opponent David Emmanuel Ombugadu who secured 283,016 votes.

Nevertheless, the tribunal declared Ombugadu the winner on October 2 and declared Sule’s election to be invalid due to a divided vote.

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