Politics

Tribunal affirms Dauda Lawal as elected Gov of Zamfara, APC reacts to tribunal

Governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Sokoto has affirmed Governor Dauda Lawal as the duly elected Governor of Zamfara state 

This follows the Tribunal’s dismissal of a petition written to the Tribunal by the former governor of the state Bello Muhammad Matawalle of the All Progressives Congress, APC, challenging challenging the victory of governor Dauda Lawal of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP

In a judgment verdict today (Monday) 18th September, 2023, the Tribunal Chairperson, Justice Cordelia Ogadi, who led two other members dismissed the petition for lack of merit and the petitioner could not prove the case as required by law.

The chairperson said Petitioner led 19 witnesses along with exhibits to prove the case while Respondent presented 18 witnesses and exhibits to defend his case. 

She said all petitioner’s legs, grounds, objections and counters were pursued including the Maradun local government elections result along with others that were disputed.

The judge said the Petitioner was unable to prove the cases of over voting and other malpractices and the burden of proving the petition relied solely on the Petitioner.

She said the 18 witnesses testified that there was tension during the collation exercise at Maradun and presented an exhibit that could not be read clearly adding that witness said security officials mandated some action on the processes.

The Chairperson added that the third Respondent, which was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) , had also testified on the processes including the declaration of election results.

According to her, all the arguments were considered and cases decided based on the constitutional requirements as well as the provisions of the electoral laws. 

Ogadi said the petitioner was unable to prove the substantial non compliance of the election that would affect the overall outcome of the election result.

She therefore dismissed the petition for lack of merit and failure to prove the alleged irregularities during the election and awarded N500,000 as cost to each of the three Respondents.

‘Smarts News’ reports that former governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle has challenged the election of the present governor of Zamfara state,  Dauda Lawal who was elected under the umbrella of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the grounds that March 18, 2023 election was marred by irregularities and had not scored majority of the lawful votes.

Matawalle who is the immediate past governor of the state and candidate of the APC in the 2023 governorship election in Zamfara state approached the Tribunal challenging the victory of Governor Dauda Lawal who was elected under the umbrella of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the grounds that March 18, 2023 election was marred by irregularities and had not scored majority of the lawful votes.

The Petitioner said the March 18, 2023 election was flawed with irregularities and sought the Tribunal to declare him winner of the said election having scored the majority of the lawful votes. 

He prayed the Tribunal to mandate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him a new certificate of return and further orders necessary.

REACTION

Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Dauda Lawal, has described the affirmation of his election victory at the election petitions tribunal as confirmation of the will of the good people of the state.

In a press statement by the Spokesperson to the Governor, Sulaiman Bala Idris, obtained by the ‘Smarts News’  in Gusau, on Monday, stressed that the tribunal’s verdict represents the will and decision of the people.

He said, “A moment ago, Dauda Lawal was affirmed as the winner of the March 18, 2023, Governorship election by the Zamfara Governorship election tribunal sitting in Sokoto.

“The judgment was not surprising but rather an affirmation of the collective decision made by the unwavering people of Zamfara.

“Governor Dauda Lawal emerged victorious in the governorship election with an impressive margin of 65,750 votes.

ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC);

The Publicity Secretary of the APC Yusuf Idris, said they were saddened with the development, saying they were suffered by the judgment of the Tribunal which ignored all evidence they presented before it.

He lamented that it was crystal clear that election didn’t hold at some wards in Birnin Magaji local government area but the Tribunal couldn’t reflect that, and other exhibits presented by the APC during hearings.

However, Yusuf said, they are in touch with all the relevant stakeholders of the Party, studying the judgment and will make their position known soon.

PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)

On his part, Alh Abba Bello Oando, Publicity Secretary of the PDP said the verdict is just an affirmation of the victory, therefore urged all to join hands with Governor Dauda Lawal to rescue the state.

He appealed to the opposition to support the governor in his bid to uplift the state and stay away from dirty politics as it is time for governance not campaigns.

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