Laleye Dipo in Minna
A Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Minna yesterday upheld the victory of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in the March 9 guber poll held in the state.
The tribunal dismissed all the grounds of the petition by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying the petitioner did not prove them beyond reasonable doubts as required by law.
“The petitioners having failed woefully to establish their case, because there is no shred of cogent evidence in proof of their allegations as required by relevant laws, in the circumstance the petitioners are not entitled to any of the reliefs sought, their petitions being bereft of any merit is bound to fail and therefore has failed in its entirety.
“The petition is therefore dismissed in its entirety for lack of merit,” the tribunal declared. Reading the verdict on behalf of two other members of the three-man tribunal, Justice John Igboji affirmed that “in the circumstances we accordingly hold that Governor Abubakar Sani Bello was the duly elected governor of Niger State having scored majority of lawful votes cast in the election.”
On the allegations of non-compliance with the electoral act, the tribunal said the “petitioner merely pleaded facts and particulars without substantiating them.”
The panel also submitted that the petitioner did not lead any evidence on its claim of vote-buying and intimidation of voters by the respondents or link him or any of its agents to the act as such, adding that “the petition has no chance of survival and is dead on arrival.”
The tribunal also blamed the petitioner for not inviting Senator Sani Musa and his company to appear and give evidence before the court for allegedly supplying voting materials to the respondents, saying “the onus of proof was on the petitioner to its case.
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to the first respondent Mr. Samuel Okutekpa SAN, commended the tribunal for “doing justice to this petition.”
According to him, “It is a painstaking judgement – you came you saw and you have delivered justice,” Okutekpa said, declaring that “everything that has a beginning must have an end.”
On his part, lead counsel to the petitioner, Mohammed Ndayako, said his client would study the judgement and take appropriate action.
However, the Director of Media of the Umar Nasko Campaign Organisation, Mohammed Yahaya, said “we have two more levels ahead, we will appeal the judgement.”
But the governor’s Chief of Staff, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, described the judgement “as victory for democracy and rule of law,” saying the administration which already on the next level “will now be more focused to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.”
He invited the petitioners to join the APC government in the task of building Niger State.