By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Niger state on Wednesday knocked out all the grounds of the petitions against governor Abubakar Sani Bello who was elected under the flagship of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in March earlier this year.
The petition as entered by the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and the candidate of the party in last March governorship election in the state, Umar Mohammed Nasko failed on all grounds.
The tribunal consequently upheld the victory of governor Abubakar Sani Bello of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in the 9th March Governorship Election as it ruled in favour of the respondents who included APC and the Independent Electoral Commission, (INEC).
The petitioners in the suit before the tribunal had sought reliefs on three throng grounds of forgery, perjury and electoral fraud as they asked the tribunal to disqualify the governor.
The election petition tribunal however held that the petitioners failed to lay credible evidence to show that the first respondent, ((Abubakar Sani Bello) was not duly elected.
On forgery, the tribunal held that the petitioners did not join the Registrar of the University of Maiduguri in the suit who is the only person who could prove that the first respondent did not graduate from the institution.
It held that a candidate in an election cannot be disqualified on the grounds of illegality unless it is shown that such candidate expressly authorised a corrupt act to be carried out and that such act had substantially affected the outcome of the election.
The tribunal therefore held that the petitioners have woefully failed to prove their case before the tribunal and they were therefore not entitled to any of the reliefs sought for.
In dismissing the petition, the tribunal awarded a cost of N50,000 to each of the respondents, (Abubakar Sani Bello, APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission).
Meanwhile, Secretary to Niger State Government, (SSG) Ahmed Ibrahim Matane has applauded the verdict of the election petition tribunal and described the judgment as victory to citizens across the state.
Ahmed Ibrahim Matane said in a statement immediately after the verdict was passed, that the judiciary had again proved itself strong in the protection of democracy and the rule of law in the country.
He noted that the resounding victory of the governor at the election petition tribunal was an indication of the trust, confidence and integrity reposed in the governor by all citizens across the state.
The SSG also congratulated the Nigerian Judiciary for living up to expectations by doing the right thing. He noted that with the judgment, a precedent had been set on electoral matters in the country.
The PDP in the state on the other hand has commended all its members across the state for standing by the party all through the tribunal’s sitting. It asked them to remain calm and awaits the stance of the party over the verdict.
In a statement by the party’s Chairman in the state, Tanko Beji, he enjoined all members and lovers of democracy in the state to remain steadfast and united.