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Tribunal upholds Bello’s election as Niger governor

By Akin Alofetekun (Minna), Murtala Adewale (Kano) and Gordi Udeajah (Umuahia)
19 September 2019   |   2:59 am
The governorship election petition tribunal in Niger State has upheld the election of Alhaji Abubakar Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor.

Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger. Photo: TWITTER/ABUSBELLO

• Ganduje, INEC urge panel to dismiss PDP’s petition
•APC supporters protest against non-release of verdict

The governorship election petition tribunal in Niger State has upheld the election of Alhaji Abubakar Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor.In a unanimous judgement that lasted four hours, the tribunal ruled that the petition filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) failed woefully, as it lacked merit

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice John Igboji, ruled that all the grounds of the petition, which include certificate forgery, election rigging and vote-buying, failed for lack of diligent prosecution, stressing that the petitioner was not entitled to any of the reliefs sought.

“The petition being bereft of any merit is bound to fail, and therefore failed,” Justice Igboji affirmed.Counsel to the petitioners, Mohammed Ndayako, said the petitioners would study the judgement to determine the next line of action.

Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, disclosed that the government of Bello was willing to work with the petitioners.Similarly, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday asked the governorship election petition tribunal in Kano State to dismiss the petition of Abba Yusuf of PDP.

In their separate submissions, the first respondent (INEC) and the second (Ganduje) had insisted that the PDP governorship candidate did not prove why the tribunal should justify its petition.Abba and PDP were challenging the declaration of Governor Ganduje by INEC as winner of the March 9 and 23 governorship ballots in Kano.

Counsel to INEC, Adedayo Adedeji, who claimed that the cancellation of election in over 80 polling units was as a result of over-voting, denied claims that some of the cancellations were carried out at collation centres.

Justice Halima Mohammad reserved judgement till further notice.Meanwhile, supporters of APC in Abia State yesterday staged a peaceful protest at Umuahia, to press for the release of rulings of the election petitions tribunal to enable the declared losers file appeals at the Court of Appeal in good time.

On Monday, September 9, 2019, the tribunal had refused to uphold the victory of Senator Orji Kalu of the APC and ordered a supplementary election in some wards in the Abia North where Senator Mao Ohuabunwa was the PDP candidate.

The protesters described the delay in the release of the verdicts as a strategy to scuttle the APC petitioners’ chances of succeeding at the appellate court.But the tribunal upheld the election of Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe of the PDP, dismissing the petition filed against his election by Chief Chris Nkwonta of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).The tribunal, in its ruling, said that the petitioner’s submissions were conflicting.

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