Tribunal dismisses certificate forgery case against Gov AbdulRazak
Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba State) remain the chief executives of their states following the affirmation of their elections by the election petitions tribunals in their states on Friday.
A separate tribunal in Kwara State dismissed a certificate forgery case against Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazak.
The Delta State Elections Tribunal threw out the petition filed by Chief Great Ogboru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging Okowa’s election.
Ogboru while alleging that the election was marred with irregularities, over-voting and substantial non-compliance with the electoral act and guidelines, prayed the tribunal to nullify the election and order the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a fresh exercise or declare him winner on the ground that he scored majority of lawful votes cast during the exercise.
The chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Sulaiman Belgore, dismissed Ogboru’s petition for lacking merit and affirmed Okowa as the winner of the poll.
The Abia Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia held that Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had no case against Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The chairman of the panel, Justice Lekan Ogumonye, in a unanimous judgment, held that the petitioner failed to prove his allegations of over-voting and non-compliance with the electoral act in the conduct of the election.
Reacting to the court’s decision, Ikpeazu extended a hand of fellowship to Otti.
He said that the task of building the state required collective efforts and collaboration of the people, irrespective of religious or party affiliations.
He said: “As I speak, about five governorship candidates from different parties have come to participate in our policy making sessions to fashion out a new direction for the state.
“I invite the APGA candidate to sheath his sword and respect the will of the people to join in the onerous task of building a new state.
“This task is beyond what only one man can do. It is a collective effort that involves all the people of the state.”
Ikpeazu said that his administration would be more committed, dedicated as well as focused in actualising its vision and agenda to transform the state.
He added that “election is about offering oneself for service, and it is the people that determine who serve at whatever time.”
He said the electorate had spoken through their ballot papers during the election.
Ikpeazu expressed gratitude to God for granting him victory at the tribunal, adding that the mandate of the people had been confirmed by the judgment.
The Taraba State Election Petition Tribunal rejected the prayer of Abubakar Danladi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to upturn Ishaku’s election.
It said the APC’s petition was not brought by competent applicants, since the first petitioner, Abubakar Danladi, had been disqualified by successive judgments from appearing as a candidate for the APC in the March 9 election.
The court also ruled that the allegations of election malpractices brought by the APC did not include sufficient evidence to warrant a nullification of the election.
Mr Danladi and his party had accused the PDP of massive election rigging.
The APC also alleged that it had polled a majority of lawful votes in the election.
But a three-member panel of the court yesterday said the decisions of various courts, including the Supreme Court, which ruled against the candidacy of Mr Danladi in the elections following an intra-party dispute, had rendered the petition incompetent.
Okowa, Ikpeazu and Ishaku’s party – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – immediately congratulated them for their judicial victories.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said the verdicts placed a seal on the acceptance of the governors as demonstrated during the elections.
He said that like others elected on the platform of the PDP, the governors stand out in their commitments towards developing their states in spite of prevailing challenges.
These, according to him, include the massive infrastructural projects in key sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, oil and gas, power, road infrastructure, education among others.
“The PDP urges the governors not to relent but to uphold their commitments in delivering on their mandates for the good of all, in line with the manifesto of the PDP.”
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Kwara State yesterday dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) petition seeking the nullification of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazak’s election.
The chairman of the tribunal sitting in Ilorin, Justice Bassey Effiong, said the petitioners were alleging directly that the second respondent, AbdulRazak, presented a fake WAEC certificate to INEC before the March 9 gubernatorial election.
Effiong said the PDP candidate, Mr Razak Atunwa, failed to prove the allegations.
“All evidences before us show that Abdulrazak sat for the examination and was therefore qualified to run for the office of the governor.
“From all the evidences before us, we hold that the petition lacks merit and is hereby dismissed,” the chairman of the three-man panel, announced in a unanimous judgment.
Effiong said the law stated that where a petitioner made the commission of a crime the kernel of his petition, then he must prove it beyond reasonable doubt.
“Has the petitioners discharged the burden of proof expected of them, and rom the evidence in this case, the answer is a resounding ‘No’.
“We hold that all the evidence presented by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) which the petitioners had relied upon and the subpoena, were at variance with the pleadings of the petitioners,” he said.
Effiong said WAEC, which is the only statutory body to issue such documents had made it clear that AbdulRazak’s credential emanated from it.
He said that the witness presented by the petitioner, Olorunshola Victor, WAEC senior examination officer in Ilorin office, presented the subpoena documents, confirming the authenticity of the WAEC certificate of AbdulRazak.
“Victor told the tribunal that he was standing in for the first witness, Waheed Amode, who could not appear in court because of an unavoidable official meeting he had in Abuja
“He confirmed that the governor sat for his West Africa School Certificate (WASC) examination in 1976 at the Government College, Kaduna,” Effiong said.
The chairman said that the second respondent also presented a witness, who confirmed the authenticity of the WAEC certificate belonging to AbdulRazak.
“The witness, Mohammed Yaro, told the court that he graduated from Government College, Kaduna, in 1976 with AbdulRazak and they both sat for the WAEC examination.
“The witness said that the governor’s serial number in WAEC was 119, while his was 122,” Effiong said.
The chairman said that all documents submitted by the respondents were not forged, as the documents were applicable to the election and the subsequent elections to come.
“The respondent was qualified to contest as at the time of the election and has won the election, having polled majority of the votes,” Effiong said.