Laleye Dipo in Minna
Following a favourable report by its Legal Advisory Committee, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has decided to challenge the victory of Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and his deputy, Alhaji Ahmad Mohammad Ketso, in the March 9, 2019 governorship election at the tribunal.
A week after the governorship election, the PDP, at an enlarged stakeholders’ meeting held in Minna, the state capital, set up the advisory committee headed by the deputy governorship candidate, Alhaji Mohammed Ndayako, to advise it on whether or not it should pursue the case in court.
The committee was reported to have submitted its findings to the state chairman of the party, Alhaji Tanko Beji, on Wednesday advising the party to seek redress at the tribunal.
THISDAY learnt that an election petition was immediately filed before the governorship and House of Assembly tribunal in Minna on Wednesday.
Joined in the petition are the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The petition was premised on two planks — alleged presentation of fake academic certificates to INEC by Governor Bello and his deputy Ketso and alleged malpractices discovered in the election in almost all the 25 local governments of the state.
According to the petition, there were glaring discrepancies in the academic certificates presented to INEC which should have in the first instance led to their disqualification.
The petitioner questioned the graduation date on the academic certificate of the governor reportedly acquired from the University of Maiduguri and the period he took part in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, which allegedly showed that he took part in the NYSC while still in the university.
The petitioner also alleged that the first defendant erred in law when he reportedly deposed personally to his declaration of age by signing for himself and his father, Col. Sani Bello (rtd).
The petitioner faulted the certificate presented by the deputy governor, Ketso, which carried different spellings in his names which he claimed were obtained in Lavun Local Government, whereas Ketso was in Mokwa Local Government in 2006 when the certificate was obtained.
According to the petitioner, the deputy governor allegedly forged his membership card of the APC by superimposing his name on that of the original owner, one Ajo.
The petition also claimed that there were glaring electoral malpractices in virtually all the 25 local governments of the state, insisting that the results of the election at polling units were at variance with the number of voters captured by the card reader machines.
It therefore asked the tribunal to declare the victory of Governor Bello in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Niger State null and void and declare the petitioner, Nasko, as winner of the election.
When contacted, the Director General of the Umar Nasko Governorship Campaign Organisation, Alhaji Mohammed Yahaya, confirmed the filing of the petition.
It was not possible to confirm if the governor his deputy and the APC had been served the petitions.