Nigeria: Kaduna Tribunal to Render Virtual Verdict Today as Ashiru and Sani Await Judgment

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The Kaduna State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal will rule today on the PDP’s petition challenging Governor Uba Sani’s victory.

In an unexpected development, the tribunal will deliver its judgment via the online platform Zoom, although no official explanation for this decision has been provided. In anticipation of this critical judgment, heightened security measures have been put in place around the court premises. A joint contingent of law enforcement, including police officers, personnel from the Department of State Security Service (DSS), and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), has been deployed to maintain order.

Supporters from both the APC and PDP have gathered in the courtroom, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the tribunal members, led by Justice Victor Oviawie.

The PDP’s challenge centers on the declaration of Governor Uba Sani as the winner of the governorship election held on March 18. Senator Sani secured a total of 730,001 votes, narrowly defeating his closest rival, Isah Ashiru, who garnered 719,196 votes. Meanwhile, the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Jonathan Asake, secured a distant third place with 58,283 votes, while Suleiman Hunkuyi of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) received 21,405 votes.

While the LP and NNPP accepted the election results, the PDP and its candidate rejected them, alleging that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had erroneously declared the wrong candidate as the winner. The PDP and Ashiru further alleged widespread irregularities which resulted in manipulation in favor of Governor Sani in certain local governments by INEC. They argued that Senator Sani did not secure the highest number of valid votes cast and, therefore, should not have been declared the winner by the electoral commission.

In June 2023, the PDP and Ashiru officially lodged a petition with the election petition tribunal to contest Governor Sani’s election victory. During the last court session on September 3, all parties presented their final written arguments before the tribunal. The APC’s legal team, led by former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Bayo Ajo, SAN, argued that the petitioners had failed to substantiate their claims and that the election was conducted fairly, highlighting the testimony of a star witness for the petitioner, Bonett Gwazah, a senior system analyst in the VR/ICT department of INEC in Kaduna State.

Conversely, the PDP asserted that INEC had released two contradictory sets of election results, accusing the electoral commission of manipulating the results in favor of Governor Sani.

Present at the court on behalf of the APC was the deputy governor of Kaduna State, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, the state party chairman, Emmanuel Jekada, the Chief of Staff to the governor, Sani Liman, and the secretary to the Kaduna State government, Balarabe Abbas. In attendance for the Kaduna State PDP were chairman Hassan Hyet and former deputy governor Nuhu Bajoga. The impending judgment has generated significant interest and anticipation among the political stakeholders and the public alike.

Soukaina Sghir

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