The petitioners and respondents in the legal tussle over the 2019 governorship elections in Kano state on Wednesday adopted their final defence before the Election Petition Tribunal presided by Justice Halima Shamaki sitting at Miller road Court complex. Mr Abba Kabiru Yusuf (1st petitioner) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) (2nd petitioner), had dragged the
The petitioners and respondents in the legal tussle over the 2019 governorship elections in Kano state on Wednesday adopted their final defence before the Election Petition Tribunal presided by Justice Halima Shamaki sitting at Miller road Court complex.
Mr Abba Kabiru Yusuf (1st petitioner) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) (2nd petitioner), had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) (1st respondent), Mr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (2nd respondent), All Progress Congress (APC) (3rd respondent) challenging the declaration of Ganduje as the winner of Kano governorship election.
In their final written addresses, the respondents urged the court to dismiss the pleadings made by the petitioners, stating that the petitioner has failed to discharge the burden on prove.
The respondents further urged the court that the exhibits that were tendered from the bar by the petitioners were not Certified True Copies (CTC) and therefore asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition in its entirety.
Counsel to the 1st respondent(INEC), Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN) told the court that the issues raised by the petitioners was bankrupt in merit and argued that the petition lacked the fertility of life.
Raji submitted that Yusuf failed to produce direct evidence to substantiate his claims that INEC wrongfully declared his opponent, Ganduje as the winner of the poll, arguing that the Electoral Act is strict on the petitioners appealing to the tribunal on this grounds and asked that the petition be dismissed.
Responding to the petition filed against his gubernatorial victory before the tribunal, Ganduje said the petitioner failed to produce a result that was contrary to what was declared by INEC.
Ganduje through his counsel, Mr Offiong Offiong (SAN) submitted that Yusuf invoked some presumptions in the attempt to prove to the court that he was duly elected as Kano state Governor, praying the court to dismiss the claims made by the petitioners.
The 3rd respondent, APC also in its defence told the tribunal that the petitioners in their claims made an unlawful translation of the provisions of the law.
The respondent through its counsel Mr Alex Iziyon (SAN) further said the petitioners failed to tender voters register that indicate the number of voters, who voted and number of votes scored to substantiate their claim as winners of the elections.
According to him, INEC possess the inherent jurisdiction to cancel elections and proceed to order for a rerun, arguing that on March 9th 2019, INEC acted rightly by declaring the Kano state governorship election as inconclusive.
Iziyon further argued that the petitioners in their claims to election victory acted in contrast to the provisions of the law by presenting pink copy result sheets, explaining that jurisprudence has transited from submission of pink copies to another stage. He then prayed the court to dismiss the petition and uphold the emergence of the APC and its candidate, Ganduje as winner of the election.
Responding to the submissions made by the respondent, counsel to the petitioners, Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN) urged the court to ignore the response from the respondents on the issues raised.
Agabi said on the 9th of March 2019 elections were held and results were announced, adding that Abba Kabiru Yusuf of the PDP scored the highest number of votes but unfortunately, INEC refused to declare PDP candidate as the winner of that election.
He argued that the rerun election held on the 23rd of March is null and void, stressing that that the results from the rerun, which declared Mr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as duly elected Kano state Governor was null and void and that the court should declare the results of the 9th of March 2019 as the valid results and return PDP and its candidate, Mr Abba Kabiru Yusuf as the winner of the election, urging the tribunal to so hold.
The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Halima Shamaki in order to douse the tense atmosphere that had trailed the proceeding had threatened to relocate the tribunal from Kano to Abuja.
To guarantee the security of the court, heavily armed security operatives who ensured that party faithful were prevented from gaining access, were stationed at strategic positions throughout the proceedings. .
In her ruling, Justice Shamaki said the tribunal would communicate to the parties, concerned the date that the final judgment would be delivered.
Meanwhile, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kogi, Prof. James Apam, on Tuesday, expressed worries over possible violence during the Nov. 16 governorship election in the state.
Apam disclosed this at the unveiling of “Get out the Vote (GOTV), Voter Education and Stop Violence Against Women In Politics (STOP VAWIP)” campaign projects and multi-stakeholders’ meeting, in Lokoja.
He said that INEC had, on several occasions, prepared to conduct credible elections and would have always put necessary machinery in place to ensure free, fair and acceptable elections only for such elections to be disrupted by violence.
The REC said that the Commission intended to correct the flaws identified in past elections during the forthcoming election, saying “we intend to correct them and make this one a test case for elections in this country.
“INEC is doing everything possible to organise free, fair and credible governorship election in November. We have met with traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the state on the way forward.
“People always blame INEC when there is problem, but the truth of the matter is that in most cases, the electorate and politicians are responsible for the problems.
“Yes, on our part, we normally encounter some problems but I can assure you that some of these problems will be solved before, during and after election. Our main worry has always been violence.
“You spent a lot of time to prepare for elections, putting resources together, training men and women for the exercise.
“You send them to the field for the exercise and all of a sudden, someone with a gun appears and starts shooting and before you know what is happening, everything has been disrupted,” Apam lamented.
Apam, therefore, enjoined parents, especially women, to help talk to their children and wards on the need to eschew violence, adding that with absence of violence, there would be massive turnout during the election and the exercise would be hitch-free.
The REC also urged the electorate to conduct themselves in an orderly manner before and during the election to enhance smooth exercise.