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Nasarawa Governorship Tribunal Judgment x-rayed – P.D. Pius

Election Tribunal


The roll call of SANs that appeared before the Nasarawa Governorship Election Tribunal is indeed thrilling. Little wonder there is so much interesting argument on both sides of the divide with each capable of convincing any man. Imagine some of the big names, Chief J-K Gadzama SAN with whom I had rare privilege of starting my law practice in his office and even as a baby lawyer then I was already working on Governorship cases in his office then. Kanu Agabi SAN, S.Okutepa SAN, JJ Usman SAN and host of others in team for the Petitioners.

When you cross the other side, it is yet someone I respect so much who takes me as his son, Ishaka M. Dikko SAN, then there is Dr. Hassan Liman SAN who is still mentoring us all. Then there is the big masquerade, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN. I am not surprised that the Tribunal judgment was not unanimous. The majority of two decided in favor of PDP while one dissented.

What were the issues? The complain of the PDP and David Ombugadu is that they won majority of lawful votes and not APC and Governor Sule. So the Tribunal is called upon to determine who won majority of lawful votes. PDP claims that their polling units results were not correctly recorded in about 6 wards including Gayam, Ciroma, Ashige, Kanji/Abuni, Azara, and Sabon Gari cutting across 4 Local Governments. They claimed that APC polling units results were increased at the ward level and local government level in these wards. Such that if the votes are correctly recorded and calculated, the PDP won the election.

Well, APC also claimed that in some other areas where PDP won, APC votes were also reduced while PDP votes increased. Thus, that if this is also corrected, APC will still win the election regardless. 😊

As far as the Tribunal was concerned, it decided that the case must be decided on its merit and no technical objections will be allowed. Thus, the fact that some subpoena witnesses did not file a written statement but testified orally will not not deny the PDP judgment. And that it will be illogical to expect that INEC officials who are sued will willingly come to write statement for the PDP that is suing them. They just have to be subpoenaed.

On the merit, the Tribunal found that when PDP votes reduced at Ward level is added back and APC votes increased at Ward or local government level is restored back to correct scores, then the final score is:

PDP- 293,287

Small but all important difference or margin of lead of just 841 votes.

Now, coming to the allegations of APC that in other areas won by PDP, votes were also increased to favour PDP and decreased for APC, the Tribunal made an interesting finding which I will love to see how it will be treated on appeal. The finding in essence is that when IREV results tallies with the duplicate copies of result issued to party agents then they are to be preferred against certified true copies. The Tribunal therefore concluded that APC did not prove there was reduction and increase of votes in areas PDP won because IREV results and duplicate copies of the results given to PDP agents tallies in these areas tally.

This will be a milestone in electoral jurisprudence in Nigeria if confirmed on appeal. It will also save Petitioners the trouble of chasing INEC for CTCs of results or chasing server results as Atiku once embarked on.

What cannot escape notice is that the arguments on both sides are compelling and it can go either way on appeal especially as the margin of lead is slim. Such that even if the final figures found by Tribunal accepted but APC is able to show that more than 841 votes were also wrongly added to PDP in other areas, then PDPs victory may be pyrrhic.

P. D. Pius, Esq., ACIArb.(UK)
Abuja, Nigeria
[email protected]

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