Zamfara election: PDP floors APC as Tribunal dismisses Gamji’s Suit against Tukur, others

0
61

Hon. Ibrahim Tukur, the PDP and INEC (1st, 2nd and 3rd Respondents) had on May, 28, 2021, at the Zamfara Election Petition Tribunal, which held in Kaduna, scored a double against the APC and its governorship candidate, Hon Dakande Gamji ( the Petitioners), when the tribunal upheld both the preliminary objections and the substantive case of the Respondents against the Petitioners.

In upholding the Respondents’ preliminary objection and substantive suit against the Petitioners, the tribunal, chaired by Hon. Justice R. I. B. Adebiyi (with Hon. Justice Silas Haruna and Hon Justice A. T. Momodu concurring), held that the Petition was devoid of any merit, and accordingly dismissed it with heavy costs.

Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, leading a team of lawyers comprising of Emeka Okpokpo, SAN, Benson Igbanoi, Sylvannus Maliki, Akintayo Balogun, Raji Raymond Dokpesi, Osilama Mike Ozekhome and Adadu Obande, had argued that there was no first Petitioner before the tribunal and that if the tribunal struck out Gamji’s name, the APC alone could not successfully maintain the petition as there would be no person to take the benefit of the victory in the event that the APC were to win.

Ozekhome based his argument on the fact that the first Petitioner, Hon. Dakande Gamji lacked locus standi as he was a total stranger to the entire electoral process that gave Tukur victory, since he never participated in same.

This is because the person who participated in all stages of the election and lost to PDP’s Tukur was one Dakande Bello , a person quite different from Hon Gamji. Citing several appellate court decisions, Ozekhome fiercely contended that Hon. Dakande Gamji could not shave Bello’s head in his absence by litigating on an election he never participated in at all , going by the entirety of the evidence before the tribunal.

Mr Sani Katu, SAN, leading Abdullahi Mohammed, Solomon Utuagha, Nanya Janfa, Ahmed Abdulrahman, A. M. Siraju, H. O. Oni and Fatima Mohammed for the 3rd Respondent (INEC), fully aligned himself with Ozekhome.

They both urged the tribunal to strike out the entire petition for being incompetent and unmeritorious. However, Mr Mahmud Magaji, SAN, leading Chris Kelechi, Adewunmi, Udzahu Medugu and Affiz Adeyemi, argued otherwise, contending that the different names of Hon Dakande Gamji and Dakande Bello were a mere misnomer which was not fundamental or fatal to the Petitioners’ case.

The tribunal however unanimously rejected the argument, upheld the preliminary objections and dismissed the Petition, holding that there was no shred of evidence linking Gamji with Bello, and that this was not a mere misnomer, but a fundamental flaw that was fatal to the Petitioners’ case. The tribunal however still went into the full merits of the case, analysed the evidence of the 37 witnesses, exhibits tendered, written addresses and oral submissions by all Counsel involved, and found no merit whatsoever in the entire Petition.

In awarding cost of N200,000 each in favour of Hon. Tukur and PDP, and against the APC and Gamji, the tribunal held, in the judgment that lasted over given hours, that many of the allegations which were criminal in nature ought to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt; but the Petitioners failed to do so. Also, the Petitioners’ failure to join as Respondents, the alleged thugs who purportedly disrupted the election was fatal to the Petitioners’ case.

It will be recalled that the APC and its candidate, Hon. Dakande Gamji, had filed a joint petition on December 20, 2020, specifically to disqualify Ibrahim Tukur of PDP, winner of the December 5th and 9th House of Assembly bye-election on the grounds that it was marred by massive irregularities. They had sought that the election be cancelled, or in the alternative that Gamji be declared winner.

The Petitioners had also alleged arbitrary allocation of figures, result sheets failing to show results of all political parties that participated in the election, violence,over voting and intimidation of voters,among other allegations. The party and its candidate also claimed they only participated in the first election held on December 5,2020, which was declared inconclusive by the INEC.

The APC and its candidate, however, lamented that inspite of these, INEC still went ahead to conduct a rerun on December 9 amid alleged security lapses which prevented them (opposition) from participating.

But while delivery the lengthy unanimous judgement that lasted for well over 5 hours, the Tribunal dismissed all the grounds and the main petition in its entirety,and awarded a total cost of 400,000 against Gamji and the APC in favour of Tukur and the PDP.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here