For residents of Lafia, Akwanga and environs, religion and party affiliations are not any hindrance for the continued celebration of the victory of the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 18, poll in Nasarawa State, Dr. David Ombugadu at the Nasarawa State Election Petition Tribunal.
The crowd that came out to celebrate the October 2, verdict of the tribunal that nullified the election of Governor Abdullahi Sule and declared PDP’s David Ombugadu as winner of the poll, set aside both religious and partisan affiliations to celebrate….CONTINUE READING HERE
Both Muslims and Christians trooped out to the streets to celebrate the tribunal’s pronouncement, days after it was made. Some natives of Kanuri, Gwandara, Mada, Migili, Alago, Hausa, Affoh and Tiv were sighted at the private residence of Dr. Ombugadu at Akwanga on October 3 and 4.
The whole of Nasarawa Eggon, where Ombugadu’s hails from was agog with dancers barricading some major streets. The show was more in Lafia, the state capital, two days after the judgement as the celebration continued at Ashiegye, Chiroma and Gayam, the tree wards of Lafia that enmeshed in litigation at the tribunal. The Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had on Monday October 2, nullified the election of Governor Sule in a split judgement of two justices against one. Delivering the virtual judgement that lasted over four hours, chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ezekiel Ajayi, declared Ombugadu of the PDP as the winner of the Mach 18 governorship election. He held that the evidence presented by the petitioner indicated that he (Ombugadu) scored majority of the lawful votes cast during the election.
In resolving the preliminary objections, the tribunal held that APC objections on BVAS machine and screenshots tendered by PDP was over-ruled because the BVAS reports were pleaded, relevant and admissible. The tribunal further dismissed the objections and delved into the merits of the petition. The tribunal deducted the votes of Chiroma having compared the entries in polling unit results with the ward result. The incorrect votes magically ascribed to Gayam is deducted. Also, the incorrect votes ascribed to Gayam was deducted. The tribunal held that petitioners’ witnesses were all competent witnesses and that the evidence of petitioners’ witnesses are all admissible. The tribunal also agreed with the 2nd petitioner on all contentions on overvoting. Consequently, votes garnered by the parties in four polling units were discountenanced and accordingly deducted as prayed by the petitioner. And by a majority decision of two to one, the tribunal upheld the prayers of the petitioners that the votes were indeed inflated.
It thereby sacked Governor Sule and affirmed Ombugadu (1st Petitioner) as the duly elected governor of Nasarawa State having polled majority of lawful votes cast during the election. The tribunal also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to the PDP candidate. Another member of the tribunal. Justice Chiemelie Onaga, who aligned with the verdict of the chairman of the tribunal, agreed that the petitioner scored the majority of the lawful votes. But, in a dissenting judgement, Justice Ibrahim Mashi, dismissed the petition over inability of the petitioner to demonstrate how he scored the majority of the votes. In his reaction to the verdict, counsel to the petitioner, Johnson Usman, said the majority judgement affirmed Ombugadu as the lawful elected governor of Nasarawa State.
But addressing top government functionaries, party leaders and thousands of APC supporters at the government house in Lafia shortly after the tribunal ruling, Governor Sule, who rejected the judgement, said he will appeal the judgement at the Court of Appeal. He told the gathering that he remains the governor of Nasarawa State and until the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court decide otherwise. His words: “First of all, we have to thank Almighty Allah that he left us in good health because we walked to the tribunal and we walked back. We are excited about what took place. Yes, the tribunal ruled two /one against us but I remain the governor of Nasarawa State. The law permits us to appeal whatever happened until The Supreme Court decides otherwise. “So, for that reason I want to first and foremost, thank our numerous supporters, especially our major stakeholders and all our youths, most especially those who are not able to be part of this gathering, those who walked under the rain just to support us. I don’t have the opportunity to see them directly but please I wish to use this opportunity to thank them for their support. “I also want to use this opportunity to thank the good people of Nasarawa State for voting for us. For some of us, who feel bad about what happen today, it is a temporary setback. I am calling on you as the governor of the state to remain calm.
There is no amount of unrest that will change what has happened. “There is no need for protest or violence we still continue to believe in the judiciary and that is the reason why we are going to the next level of appeal. So, maybe, most of you will not respond to whatever the other people will say on the social media because if you respond to whatever they are saying, then they are getting what they want. The answer will continue to be A. A Sule is the governor and he will continue to be the governor. “As far as I am concerned, I am going to continue with my work in office as if nothing had ever happened and as far as we are concerned, all developmental programmes that we have already set up will continue.
Those who will take the responsibility of the appeal are the legal people they should continue with their work. “For those of us who are not lawyers, we do not understand what is happening in that area. So, we should just remain focused and continue with our work, That is the reason why I am calling on the good people of Nasarawa State to understand that this first judgement is the judgement of the tribunal, it is not the judgement of the Supreme Court.” Backing the governor’s move to appeal the tribunal’s judgement, the Nasarawa State chapter of the APC, which also rejected the verdict, urged the governor to appeal the split judgement. The state chairman of the party, Aliyu Bello, said it was as a monumental error to declare the PDP candidate as winner of the gubernatorial election. He said that the dissenting judgement has not only strengthened the party’s resolve to pursue the appeal, but laid bare, the facts of the case for all to see. “The facts presented by our legal team and that of INEC against the petition of the PDP and its candidate, are overwhelming and incontrovertible. We are therefore in awe as to how the tribunal arrived at its puzzling decision.
“However as law-abiding political party that believes in the rule of law, the APC in Nasarawa State hereby appeal to its teeming supporters and well-wishers to remain calm and await the result of justice by our hardworking governor Abdullahi Sule to take its course.” The APC warned thePDP to desist from harassing and intimating people under the guise of celebrating the split judgement to avoid breakdown of law and order in the state. In a swift reaction, the PDP in the state, admonished the ruling APC to stop constituting itself to judges and allow the nation’s competent jurists to decide the merit of the election result as decided by the tribunal. Spokesperson of the PDP Governorship Campaign Council, Mike Omeri, said the option left of APC in Nasarawa State is to face defeat and leave the stage for good governance….CONTINUE READING HERE