Linus Oota, Lafia
The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lafia, Nasarawa State, has upheld the victory of the immediate past governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected senator for Nasarawa South.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Al-Makura winner of the February 2019 National Assembly election after pulling 113,156 votes to defeat his closest opponent and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP, Senator Sulieman Adokwe who garnered 104,595 votes.
Dissatisfied with INEC decision, Senator Adokwe filed a petition at the tribunal challenging the commission’s decision to declare Al-Makura winner.
Delivering Judgment in Lafia, the presiding judge, Justice David Ugoh submitted that the petition of Adokwe and PDP were predicated on the ‘hearsay’ evidence of their principal witness, Ayiwulu Baba Ayiwulu.
The tribunal further buttressed that a court or tribunal has no business to entertain, consider or rely on the evidence of persons who did not have a first-hand, direct, actual and positive interaction with the facts in issue.
The election tribunal further observed that “it is undesirable for counsel to appear in a professional capacity in a case in which he is a material witness.”
He noted that despite the manifest failure of the petitioners to prove their petition, Senator Al-Makura’s counsels still led credible evidence to show the weakness of the petitioners’ case and the futility of the court granting their reliefs.
Contrary to the claim of the petitioners, the tribunal held that the election was peaceful and conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act, 2010 and the Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of 2019 elections.
The tribunal also held that since Adokwe and PDP have failed to show credible evidence that they scored higher than the votes scored by Senator Al-Makura in the said election, the sanctity of the declaration made by INEC returning Senator Al-Makura as the winner of the election is upheld.