The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kaduna has affirmed the election of Nasiru el-Rufai of the All progressives Congress (APC) as governor of Kaduna state. The governor had been dragged before the tribunal by Polycarp Danladi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), who came third in the 11 April election. Danladi had prayed the tribunal to nullify el-Rufai’s election and order a re-run. He had argued that the election was characterised by over voting and did not comply substantially with the Electoral Act.
But in the six-hour judgment delivered on Thursday by the Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice A. A. Adebara dismissed the petitioner’s prayer for cancellation of the election and affirmed el-Rufa’i as duly elected. The tribunal equally dismissed the petitioner’s allegation of over voting and alteration of scores for insufficient evidence and inability to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
Although in investigating the documents tendered in evidence by the petitioner’s counsel, the tribunal confirmed that votes were not recorded for the petitioner in some polling units of some wards in seven local government areas of the state. They included 11 wards in Birnin Gwari; nine in Giwa; 12 in Kachia; seven in Kagarko; 10 in Kauru; eight in Kaura and 11 in Sanga local government areas. The tribunal also confirmed that some result sheets of some polling units in Birnin Gwari, Kachia, Kaura and Sanga local government areas were not duly authenticated as alleged by the petitioner. The results of all the affected polling units in the aforementioned councils were therefore cancelled and the affected votes deducted from APC, PDP and APGA in compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act.
“However, even as there are prove to the petitioner’s allegation of non-compliance to the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, which led to the cancellation of votes in the aforementioned councils, el-Rufai of the APC still leads with 595,030 votes ahead of PDP and with 991,530 votes ahead of the petitioner.
“Therefore, the first respondent election cannot be invalidated, because he still has the highest number of total valid votes cast and is more than enough to be return elected,’’ said the tribunal.
Adebara added that there was no basis for ordering INEC to conduct a fresh election, because the allegation of non-compliance, though proved, did not affect substantially the result of the election.
“I therefore dismissed the petition and affirmed the declaration of the first respondent by INEC as the winner of the April 11 governorship election in Kaduna state,’’ he said.
Responding to the judgment, counsel to the petitioner, Olumuyuwa Olowokure, commended the tribunal for the well research judgment.
“We will look at the judgment to see where we went wrong and equally consult with our client on the next step to take,” he added.