On Tuesday, the Election Petition Tribunal in Sokoto state admitted in evidence two documents on the educational qualifications of the Deputy Governor, Idris Gobir, and deferred sitting until July 19.
After the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate for governor in 2023, Alhaji Sa’idu Umar, had finished their evidence to substantiate their petition, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Haruna Mshelia, delayed the case.
Mshelia put the case on hold so that the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Ahmad Aliyu, and Gobir may present their opening statements in defense.
Exhibits from the Saboon Birni Local Government Education Authority, which were submitted by Mr. Muyiwa Akinboro, SAN, the lead Counsel for the People’s Democratic Party and Alhaji Sa’idu Umar, the party’s candidate for governor in 2023, were approved for presentation in court.
Akinboro directed Alhaji Bello Goronyo, the state party chairman, who was the last of the 32 witnesses lined up to prove the petition at the Tribunal. Goronyo was the final witness.
Goronyo stated in his testimony that he delegated some party members as agents and got reports on election violence and associated frauds. These reports were collated and sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as well as other relevant authorities. Goronyo also stated that he received reports from the agents on election violence and associated frauds.
He agreed that some people had been arrested on allegations of violence and malpractice, but he was unable to confirm whether or not those people had been prosecuted for their crimes.
The chairman of the party stated before the tribunal that he was unaware of any court order about whether or not Governor Aliyu and his deputy, Gobir, were eligible to run in the election.
Akinboro also brought Abdulmumini Usman, the Head of Operations for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Sokoto. Usman supplied various election records as proof.
Both the lead counsel for the respondents, Chief Jecob Ochidi, SAN, and the counsel for the opposition party, Hassan Liman, SAN, raised objections over the admissibility of the papers.
The lead counsel for INEC, Mr. AbdulAziz Sani, SAN, has stated that he agrees with the submissions made by the counsel for the respondents.
According to the Nigerian News Agency (NAN), Umar and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) petitioned the tribunal to overturn the results of the election held on March 18, 2023, which declared Governor Ahmad Aliyu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and his Deputy, Idris Gobir, as the victorious candidates.
In the petition, they claimed that the election was tainted with irregularities and did not adhere to the regulations governing elections.
The petitioners stated that the respondents were not qualified to contest the election at the time of the election and pleaded that votes were erroneously credited to them because of the respondents’ non-qualification to contest the election. The petitioners claimed that the respondents were not qualified to contest the election at the time of the election.
They maintained that the election in question had become illegal, rendering it invalid and void.
In addition, they requested that the tribunal either direct INEC to issue a new certificate of return to the petitioner as the lawfully elected Governor of Sokoto State for having received the majority of the legitimate votes cast or order another election in which the respondents are not candidates. They argued that the petitioner had received the majority of the lawful votes cast.