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Confusion over Kaduna tribunal ruling, APC, PDP claim victory




CONFUSION has continued to trail the ruling of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Kaduna State after reports emerged that the election has allegedly been declared inconclusive by the three-man panel led by Justice Victor Oviawe.

Journalists were not granted access to cover the tribunal’s ruling delivered via Zoom.

About an hour after the alleged declaration of the election as inconclusive, another report emerged via the X (formerly Twitter) handle of Governor Uba Sani suggesting that the tribunal had upheld his victory as the duly elected governor of the state.

The second report, which triggered celebration in Sani’s camp, stated that the tribunal had delivered the judgment on a petition that the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Isah Ashiru, filed to challenge Sani’s victory and that the panel held that Sani was duly elected.

Earlier in the March 18, 2023 governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Sani, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, winner of the election.

But Ashiru and his party (PDP) rejected the result and headed to court.

In a telephone conversation with our correspondent, Sani’s counsel, H.O. Ibrahim (SAN), said the earlier report that the election was declared inconclusive was circulated by mischief makers inside the court who wanted to disrupt the peace of the proceeding and the peace in Kaduna State.

“This is nothing but the handiwork of mischief makers. My client has been declared the duly elected governor of Kaduna State,” Ibrahim stated.

But a former Permanent Secretary in the Kaduna State civil service, Dr Ibrahim Balarabe-Musa, told The PUNCH that the tribunal declared the election inconclusive and therefore ordered a rerun.

Also, the PDP governorship candidate, Ashiru, in a statement, said the judgment was in his favour.

In the statement titled, ‘Tribunal Nullifies Uba Sani’s Election,’  Ashiru said, “First, I give glory to God Almighty for the progress made so far in our effort to reclaim the mandate given to us by the good people of Kaduna State. I also thank the people of the state for widely believing in me and the PDP.

“Also, given the ruling of the Kaduna State election tribunal, it has become necessary to share with our teaming supporters, the true position of the ruling.

“On the preliminary objection, the tribunal,  based on the majority of 2:1, the judges upheld the preliminary objection of the respondent to the effect that the application for pre-hearing was done prematurely i.e. before the service of the last set of petitioners’ reply to the 2nd respondent’s reply to the petition was served.

“However, the law enjoins the tribunal, as a trial court, to proceed to pronounce on the merit of the substantive suit so that in the event the court of appeal finds that the trial tribunal was wrong in its decision on the preliminary objection, it would have the benefit of pronouncing on the decision of the tribunal in the substantive matter.

“Accordingly, the trial tribunal finds merit in the aspect of the petitioner’s case relative to the margin of win between the two leading candidates. The tribunal, by a split decision of 2:1, accordingly nullified the election of the governor of Kaduna State, ordered that the Certificate of Return be retrieved and fresh elections be conducted in some polling units in four LGAs and the outcome thereof be reckoned with before the declaration of the winner of the governorship election in Kaduna State.

“I want to again thank the people of the state while urging them all to remain law-abiding while we pursue the appeal process. One thing I can assure the good people of Kaduna State is that I will pursue this mandate you freely gave me to its logical conclusion and by the grace of God, victory is on our side.”