The Kaduna State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has upheld the re-election of Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC ) in the March 9 poll in Kaduna State.
The tribunal in its ruling on Monday in Kaduna dismissed the petition filed by Alhaji Isah Ashiru, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9 election.
Justice Ibrahim Bako, Chairman of the three-member tribunal, held that the petitioners did not provide substantial evidence to support their petition.
Bako said: “The petitioners have not provided substantial proof before this Tribunal that will support all that they alleged in their petition.
“The petitioners failed to provide proof that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong in its declaration that Gov. Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai was duly elected.
“This Tribunal, therefore, dismisses the Petition filed by the PDP and its candidate, Alhaji Isah Ashiru, against the decision of INEC that returned of Malam Nasiru El-Rufai, candidate of the APC, as duly elected in the March 9 election in Kaduna state.’’
Bako narrated that the PDP and its governorship candidate (Ashiru) had petitioned the March 9 poll in which El-Rufai was returned as duly elected by the INEC.
He said that the petitioners in their final written address on Aug. 19, asked the tribunal to cancel 515,951 votes which it contended were unlawfully added to the total votes cast during the March 9 poll.
He held that the petitioners called 135 witnesses out of the 685 they mentioned in the petition to prove alleged massive rigging, ballot stuffing and other irregularities during the poll as contained in their petition.
The petitioners had alleged that INEC had added 391,741 votes to El-Rufai of APC and 124,210 unlawful votes to the PDP through wrong or double entry on the result sheets.
The petitioners also contended that declaring the 2nd respondent as winner by 1st respondent was illegal as the 2nd respondent did not score majority of lawful votes.
The petitioners through their counsel, led by Emmanuel Ukala,SAN, said deducting 391,741 votes from 1,045,427 scored by the 2nd respondent and 124,210 from the petitioner’s 814,168 votes will give victory to the petitioners and candidate in the election.
The counsel had argued that after the deduction of the alleged unlawful votes, the petitioner will be left with 689,958 lawful votes, while the 2nd respondent will have 653,686 votes.
In his submission, the counsel argued that all parties to the petition were bound to argue their cases on the basis of whether or not the petitioners had assembled credible evidence to sustain their petition, as formulated by the tribunal.
Bako in his ruling, however, said the signatures of most of the 135 witnesses the petitioners presented in their written statements, as deposed before the tribunal did not match with the specimens taken while they testified in court.
He also said that some of the names of the witnesses did not match with the names on their INEC voter’s which they presented before the tribunal.
According to him, under-cross examination, the tribunal discovered that most of the witnesses were not party agents and were not present at the various polling units the petition alleged there were irregularities.
“They were not witnesses to the events that took place during the election as the petitioners claimed.
“The Tribunal is therefore of the view that the witnesses lied under oath and their evidence cannot be relied upon in taking decision here,” Bako said.
He said the petitioners presented 18 sets of documents including certified true copies of results from 12 local government areas to support their petition.
The chairman however said the content of documents conflicted with the various pages of the petition and the testimonies of the witnesses.
He therefore said the petitioners had not provided the substantial evidence they claimed in their petition and dismissed the petition.
Reacting to the judgment, the state PDP Chairman, Mr Felix Hassan Hyat, said the party executive would meet with the counsel and take a decision on further action.
Hyat said the tribunal’s decision was the first stage of the petition out of the three stages allowed by law.
On his part, Sen. Uba Sani, who was in court, said the APC and El-Rufai had been vindicated by the decision of the tribunal.
He commended the tribunal for fairness in its decision, saying that the APC will work hard to justify the confidence the electorate gave to the party.