Connect with us

Breaking News

Umar challenges the ruling that upholds Aliyu as the governor of Sokoto




The Sokoto State Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 18 governorship election, Saidu Umar, and the PDP have appealed against the judgement of the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, which affirmed the election of Ahmed Aliyu as Governor of the State.

Umar and his party listed nine grounds upon which they are asking the Supreme Court to set aside the concurrent judgements of the state governorship election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

In the appeal filed on their behalf by their team of lawyers led by Mr Sunday Ameh (SAN), the appellants claimed that “the judgement of the Court of Appeal is against the weight of evidence” and, as such, should be set aside by the apex court.

A three-member panel of the appellate court held in a unanimous judgement last month that the appellants failed to substantiate allegations of irregularities, noncompliance, and non-qualification contained in their appeal.

Justice Mbaba Bassi, who delivered the lead judgement, held that the tribunal was right in expunging evidence of non-compliance and other alleged irregularities and malpractices because the evidence was presented by incompetent witnesses, adding that the failure of the appellants to list and front-load the statements of the witnesses was fatal to their case.

Besides, the court held that even though the appellants provided documents from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prove the cancellation of the election in 138 polling units across the state, their failure to call witnesses from the affected polling units to speak to the documents was fatal to their case.

Justice Bassi pointed out that reliance on Section 137 of the Electoral Act, 2022, was insufficient to prove cancellation without oral evidence.

But Umar and the PDP, in their appeal filed on December 10 at the Supreme Court, argued that “the Court of Appeal, in its judgement, ignored the Supreme Court’s pronouncement on the application of the provision of Section 137 of the Electoral Act, 2022.”

According to the appellants, the appellate court made a positive finding that the evidence on record before the court demonstrated that the non-compliance complained of by the appellants was manifest from the Certified True Copies of documents relied upon, adding that by the doctrine of judicial precedent, the Court of Appeal was bound without any discretion by the decision of the Supreme Court in Oyetola v. INEC (Supra) and not recent authorities of the Court of Appeal as erroneously held at page 104 of its judgement on the same point that the Supreme Court had made a positive pronouncement on.

“The Supreme Court’s judgement in Oyetola vs. INEC ranks superior to the authorities in Collins vs. INEC and Others, delivered on 4/10/2023, and UKODHIKO vs. PDP and others, delivered on 1/11/2023, heavily relied on by the Court of Appeal at page 104 of its Judgement,” they submitted.

In ground eight of the appeal, Umar and his party further claimed that “the Court of Appeal erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it held on page 90 of the judgement that Exhibits SW68 and SW87 remained invalid having been produced by incompetent witnesses going by the position of the Supreme Court in Obi vs. INEC & Ors. and Atiku Abubakar & Anor. v. INEC and two others, SC/CV/935/2023 (unreported).

“Exhibits SW68 and SW87 are the Certified True Copies of the INEC Summary of PVCs Collected in All the Polling Units in Sokoto State, which were tendered by subpoenaed witnesses from INEC (PW29 and PW30).

“Exhibits SW68 and SW87 are certified true copies of public documents in the custody of the 4th Respondent, duly certified by it and tendered by the maker. The only admissible forms of the said exhibits SW68 and SW87 are the originals or certified true copies of the said documents.

“Exhibits SW68 and SW87 were produced by PW29 and PW30 upon subpoena Duces Tecum ad Testificandum, which commanded them to appear before the Trial Tribunal to perform dual responsibilities, namely, to tender documents and to give oral testimony,” the appellants argued.

They therefore prayed the apex court to allow the appeal and “set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal affirming the decision or judgement of the Trial Tribunal delivered on September 30, 2023, in Petition No.: EPT/SK/GOV/01/2023.”

Besides, they prayed to the apex court to determine that Aliyu and his deputy were, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election.

“An order directing the withdrawal of the Certificates of Return issued to the 1st and 2nd Respondents by the Respondent”. That it may be determined that the 1st Appellant, having scored the majority of lawful votes cast at the Governorship Election held on March 18, 2023, be returned as duly elected Governor of Sokoto State.

“An order mandating or directing the 4th Respondent to issue Certificates of Return to the 1st Appellant as the winner of the election conducted by the 4th Respondent on March 18, 2023, for the office of the Executive Governor of Sokoto State.

“In alternative to Relief 5 above, an order of the Supreme Court directed the 4th Respondent to conduct a rerun in the 138 polling units where the election did not hold or was cancelled by INEC.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the appeal.

It would be recalled that a three-member panel of Justices of the Election Petition Tribunal, led by Justice Haruna Msheila, had, in a unanimous judgment delivered on September 30, dismissed the petition of the PDP and its governorship candidate in the last governorship election in Sokoto State.

The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove the six grounds formulated in their joint petition.

According to the tribunal, the grounds stated in the petition bordered on the alleged ineligibility of Aliyu and his deputy to contest, falsification of certificates, variation of names, election frauds, and non-compliance with electoral guidelines.

The lower court held in its judgement that the petitioners were unable to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt as required by law, as 70 per cent of the exhibits they tendered were out of context because they relate to State Assembly elections conducted on the same day.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *