Tribunal dismisses Ashiru’s petition, affirms Sani’s election as Kaduna Governor

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The Kaduna State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in the state capital has dismissed the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party and its candidate in the 2023 election, Isah Ashiru against the victory of Governor Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress.

In a dissenting judgment of two against one, delivered on Thursday, a three-member panel headed by Justice Victor Oviawie dismissed the petition on the ground that the pre-hearing notice was filed out of time and therefore deemed to be abandoned.

The tribunal chairman and another member held that the appeal brought by PDP and Ashiru against the dismissal of their petition at the preliminary stage by the first and second defendants wasn’t meritorious because the filing of the pre-hearing notice was abandoned and out of time, and therefore had dealt the entire petition a fatal blow.

However, the tribunal noted that if the petition had not been dismissed for lack of merit, it would have ordered a supplementary election in 22 polling units within 90 days in the substantive judgement.

The PDP and Ashiru are challenging the declaration of Governor Sani as the winner of the March 18 governorship election.

Senator Sani during the election polled a total of 730,001 votes to defeat his closest rival, Isah Ashiru of the PDP, who scored 719, 196 votes.

The Labour Party candidate, Jonathan Asake came a distant third with 58,283 votes, while Suleiman Hunkuyi of the New Nigeria Peoples Party scored 21,405 votes.

While the Labour Party and NNPP accepted the outcome of the election, the PDP and its candidate rejected the results, alleging that the Independent National Electoral Commission declared the wrong candidate winner of the election.

The PDP and Ashiru alleged that there were massive irregularities and manipulation of results in favour of Governor Ubah in some local governments by INEC.

According to them, the APC candidate did not score the highest number of valid votes cast in the election and ought not to have been returned winner of the election by INEC.

In June 2023, the PDP and Ashiru, however, filed a petition at the election petition tribunal to challenge the election of Governor Uba.

At the last sitting of the court on September 3, all parties presented their final written addresses before the tribunal, with APC’s legal team led by a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo, arguing that the petitioners had helped in proving he won the election free and fair, pointing in particular to the admission of a star witness for the petitioner, Bonett Gwazah, a senior system analyst in the VR/ICT department of INEC in Kaduna State.