The National and State Legislative Houses Elections Petition Tribunal in Kano has affirmed the election of Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the Bebeji/Kiru federal constituency of Kano State in the February 27, 2019 elections.
In a unanimous judgment, the tribunal chaired by Hon. Justice Nayai Aganaba with Hon. Justice Ashu Augustine Ewah and Hon Justice Mustapha Tijjani as members unanimously dismissed the petition filed by Aliyu Datti Yako and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the victory of Jibrin as the winner of the said election. The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations as contained in their petitions against the respondents.
Yako and his party, PDP had dragged Hon. Jibrin, his party, APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the tribunal, challenging the result of the Bebeji/Kiru federal constituency election over alleged irregularities. The APC and INEC were second and third respondents respectively.
Yako had alleged that INEC wrongly declared Hon. Jibrin as the winner of the polls with 41,700 votes, while he was said to have scored 40,385 votes. In the petition filed before the tribunal on his behalf by his counsel, Chief M. N Duru, the PDP candidate alleged that the result declared by INEC was fraught with vote-buying, violence, over-voting, inducement of voters with monetary and material gains, campaigning and lobbying voters, on the day of election.
He claimed that the INEC ought to have declared him (Yako), the winner of the election instead of Jibrin, claiming that he scored the highest lawful votes cast in the election. Yako alleged that the election and return of Hon. Jibrin was invalid by reason of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Approved Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of 2019 general elections.
According to him, the election and return of Jubrin was invalid by reason of corrupt practices, which vitiated the election in the Bebeji/Kiru federal constituency of Kano State.
The petitioner stated that contrary to the result declared by INEC, he (Yako) won the majority of lawful votes cast and ought to have been declared winner and returned as the duly elected member for the House of Representatives for Bebeji/Kiru federal constituency.
Other irregularities he stated in his petition, included non-accreditation and/or improper accreditation of voters by INEC officials, intimidation and arrest of his supporters and poll agents, as well as the instigation of electoral violence by the agents of the first respondent.
The petitioners claimed that apart from the listed irregularities, there were irreconcilable entries in the result declared and the number of votes recorded in favour of Hon. Jibrin by INEC in forms EC8A and EC8B respectively. He also alleged non-use of accredited card readers in line with the 3rd respondent’s (INEC’s) guidelines and regulations for the conduct of the election.
But in his defence, Hon. Jubrin, through his lead counsel, Bode Olanipekun, SAN, debunked all the allegations contained in the petition, adding that not only was the petition an incompetent one, but that same was replete with errors, mistakes, misconceptions and misrepresentations, all of which were individually and collectively fatal to the petitioners’ claim.
Jibrin along with APC and INEC insisted that Jibrin scored the highest lawful votes cast in the election and urged the tribunal to dismiss Yako’s petition with substantial costs. They also submitted that during cross-examination, Yako admitted that the election process he personally witnessed was free and fair, and that all incidences of malpractices complained about were reported to him by others.
According to Jibrin and the other respondents, the petitioners had not made any case whatsoever for the granting of reliefs sought by them and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
In their judgment, the tribunal came to various findings in favour of the respondents and against the petitioners, ultimately reaching a conclusion that the allegations against the election and return of the 1st respondent, Hon. Jubrin were unproven.
The tribunal held that the petitioner failed to substantiate and give particulars of all allegations raised against the election of Hon. Jubrin and declared that the National Assembly elections from which Hon. Jubrin was declared the winner valid.