Tribunals Affirm Okowa, Ikpeazu, Abdulrasaq, Ishiaku

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Okowa-and-Obaseki

Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba, Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia, Hammed Shittu in Ilorin and
Alex Enumah
 in Abuja

Governorship Election Tribunals in four different states yesterday reaffirmed the election of incumbent governors. They are Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq of Kwara and Darius Ishaku of Taraba.

The Tribunal sitting in Asaba ruled that Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was validly elected at the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Delta State, thus affirming his subsequent declaration as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore, made the declaration when he gave the ruling in Asaba while dismissing the petition of Chief  Great Ogboru on ground of gross incompetence.

In Abia State, the  tribunal sitting in Umuahia, upheld the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

In reaching this verdict the three man panel dismissed the petition filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Alex Otti.

The tribunal in the verdict read by its chairman, Justice Lekan Ogunmoye held that Otti failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt his claims that Ikpeazu’s victory was made possible by over voting and  other electoral malpractices.

In Ilorin, Kwara State,  the tribunal affirmed the election of March 9 governorship election that produced Governor  Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq and dismissed the petition filed by  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) petition seeking the nullification of Governor  AbdulRazaq’s election on the ground that he lacked the academic qualification to run.

Delivery his ruling, the chairman of the tribunal,  Justice Bassey Effiong said the PDP’s candidate Razaq Atunwa failed to prove the allegations, holding instead that “all evidences before us show that (AbdulRazaq) sat the exam and was therefore qualified to run for the office of Governor.”

In Taraba State, the three man panel led by Justice Moses Adewara, in an unanimous judgment, dismissed the petition filed by Abubakar Danladi and the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the victory of Governor Ishaku in the March 9 governorship election in the state.

 

Danladi and the APC in the petition asked the tribunal to nullify the reelection of Ishaku on grounds that the governor was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the March 9 governorship election.

 

 

 

Following INEC’s declaration of Okowa as triumphant at the polls and duly returned, the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Party (APC), Chief Great Ogboru, promptly filed a petition challenging the victory of Dr. Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election.

 

In the petition, Okowa is First Respondent, while the PDP and INEC are joined as Second and Third respondents, respectively while Ogboru and APC are First and Second petitioners, respectively.

 

Nonetheless, in dismissing the petition, in a unanimous judgment that lasted about three hours, Justice Belgore declared, ‘’The petition was badly drafted and devoid of details and insufficient data.’’

 

He described the petitioner as a gold-digger in the manner he put his prayers before the tribunal without making efforts to provide adequate data to justify those prayers.

 

“We have no reason to upturn that declaration. This petition is gold digging, opportunistic, it failed and it is hereby dismissed,” the tribunal ruled.

 

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In Abia, Otti and his party had gone to the tribunal seeking the annulment of the March 9, 2019 poll after the incumbent governor was declared victorious by the Independent National  Electoral Commission (INEC)

 

Otti was placed third in the three result announced by INEC but he faulted the result saying that Ikpeazu did not win majority of lawful votes cast at the poll.  According to him, there was enough evidence that the total number of votes credited to the contestants was far higher than the number of accredited voters.

 

He also alleged in his petition that the governorship poll was characterised by noncompliance with the electoral law and INEC guidelines and regulations hence the outcome should be invalidated and fresh poll conducted.

The tribunal disagreed, saying that the card reader accreditation on which the

petitioner relied to prove over voting was meant to supplement the voters’ register, adding that the electronic device could not be elevated to the level of becoming more prominent than the register.

 

 

 

In Kwara, the PDP governorship candidate, Hon.Razak Atunwa and his party has filed petition at the tribunal against governor Abdulrasaq for alleged forgery of his West African School certificate presented for the poll.

 

Delivery his ruling, the chairman of the tribunal,  Justice Bassey Effiong said the PDP’s candidate Razaq Atunwa failed to prove the allegations, holding instead that “all evidences before us show that (AbdulRazaq) sat the exam and was therefore qualified to run for the office of Governor.”

 

He said“From all the evidences before us, we hold that the petition lacks merit and is hereby dismissed”.

 

Effiong said the law is that where a petitioner makes the commission of a crime the kernel of their petition, then they must prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

 

“Has the petitioner discharged the burden of proof expected of them? From the evidence in this case, the answer is a resounding no,” Effiong added.

 

“We hold that all the evidences presented by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) — which the petitioners had relied upon and subpoenaed —were at variance with the pleadings of the petitioners,” Effiong added.

 

 

The Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sat in Abuja. The three man panel led by Justice Moses Adewara, in an unanimous judgment, dismissed the petition filed by Abubakar Danladi and the All Progressive Congress (APC) against the victory of Governor Ishaku in the March 9 governorship election in the state.

 

Danladi and the APC in the petition asked the tribunal to nullify the reelection of Ishaku on grounds that the governor was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the March 9 governorship election.

 

The petitioners further claimed that Ishaku’s reelection was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

 

The APC and Danladi further claimed that the governor’s election was invalid by reasons of corrupt practices.

 

Respondents in the petition, marked EPT/TR/GOV/01/2019, were the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Ishaku.

 

There was a twist to the petition when on July 10, Danladi, after calling 53 witnesses, applied, through his counsel, Alex Akoja, to withdraw the petition following a July 5 judgment of the Supreme Court, which upheld his disqualification from contesting the election by a Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo.

 

 

 

Reacting to the judgements, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Friday congratulated Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State and his Taraba State Counterpart, Governor Darius Ishaku for their respective victories at the governorship election petitions tribunal.

 

The party in a statement signed by its National Publicity  Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan described the upholding of the elections of the governors as triumph of the collective will and aspirations of the people of the two states as amply expressed in the March governorship elections.