(JUST IN)Kaduna: Appeal Court upholds Uba Sani’s election

The election of Kaduna State Governor Uba Sani was upheld by the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday.

A three-judge panel unanimously denied an appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Mohammed Ashiru, to contest the outcome of the state’s governorship election on March 18.

The court maintained the verdict of the Kaduna State Election Petition Tribunal, which validated Governor Sani’s election, in its lead ruling, issued by Justice Obietonbara Daniel-Kalio.

It ruled that the tribunal’s majority judgment to dismiss the PDP and its candidate’s case was justified.

According to the appeal court, the petitioners violated paragraph 18(1) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 by asking to the tribunal for a pre-hearing notice too soon.

Noting that the legislation required such an application to be made seven days after the completion of the parties’ pleadings, the court rejected the Appellants’ assertion that they acted “out of an abundance of caution.”

It was determined that care in prosecuting an issue could not be equated with jumping the gun, and that one of the key components for a court’s exercise of jurisdiction “is that a case must be initiated by due process of law.”

Furthermore, the court ruled that the comments made under oath by the majority of the witnesses who testified for the Appellants were invalid since they were not included with the petition.

It found that the witnesses’ refusal to file frontload statements within the 21-day timeframe for filing the petition rendered them legally incompetent.

Furthermore, the appellate court concluded that the majority of the petitioners’ witnesses presented hearsay testimony.

The court declared that it was satisfied that the tribunal correctly assessed and assigned probative value to the evidence provided to it by the parties.

It answered all five questions raised by the Appellants in their appeal.

“The appeal is dismissed because it lacks merit.” “Parties must bear their own costs,” the court ruled.

It would be remembered that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, reported that Governor Sani, the flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, received 730,001 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Ashiru, who received 719, 196 votes.

However, unsatisfied with the election results, the PDP and its candidate filed a complaint with the tribunal.

The Petitioners claimed that Governor Uba was not legitimately elected by a majority of valid votes cast in the election, and that the election was unlawful due to corrupt practices and noncompliance with the terms of the Electoral Act 2022.

They claimed that several polling unit results were incorrectly annulled, citing anomalies in INEC accreditation documents.

The tribunal, however, denied the case on technical grounds and maintained Uba’s election victory in a two-to-one split decision delivered on September 28.

In its majority ruling, the tribunal led by Justice Victor Oviawie declared the petition abandoned, citing the fact that the PDP and its candidate failed to file their pre-hearing application within the time limit required by law.

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