The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Saidu Umar, filed an appeal to contest the results of the state’s March 18, 2023, gubernatorial election. The appeal was dismissed by the highest court in a lead decision delivered by Justice Tijjani Abubakar.
The court held that it found no reason to set aside the concurrent judgements of the Court of Appeal and the Sokoto State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which dismissed the appeal that sought to upturn the election victory of Governor Aliyu, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had announced that Governor Aliyu polled a total of 453,661 votes to defeat his closest rival, Umar of the PDP who polled 404,632 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, Umar and the PDP approached the tribunal, alleging that Aliyu and his deputy, Idris Gobir, were not eligible to contest the gubernatorial poll.
The petitioners contended that Governor Idris and his deputy did not secure the majority of valid votes that were cast at the election to be declared winners by INEC.
They further alleged that the election was not only marred by irregularities but was also not conducted in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
Aside from alleging that the governor and his deputy submitted forged certificates, with variations of names, to INEC in aid of their qualification to contest the election, the petitioners added that electoral fraud occurred in 138 polling units in the state.
However, the three-man panel tribunal, in a judgement it delivered on September 30, 2023, dismissed the petition as lacking in merit.
The Justice Haruna Mshelia-led tribunal held that the petitioners were unable to prove any of the allegations they raised in the petition.
It held that evidence of most of the witnesses who testified for the PDP and its candidate were incompetent as their statements on oath were not front-loaded alongside the petition as required by law.
The tribunal held that the allegation of forgery, being criminal, ought to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt, a burden it said the petitioners failed to discharge.
More so, the tribunal noted that 70 per cent of exhibits the petitioners adduced before it, were out of context and they related to the State House of Assembly elections that were conducted on the same date the governorship poll was held.
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on November 27, 2023, upheld the decision of the tribunal.
The appellate court panel held that most of the proof of evidence the petitioners produced in support of their case was legally inadmissible.
It held that the tribunal was right when it expunged the incompetent exhibits that were either not pleaded or irrelevant to the case that was brought before it.
Not happy with the judgement, the PDP and its candidate went to the Supreme Court, where they also lost the case on Thursday.
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