Appeal court reserves judgment on Nasarawa governorship

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Wednesday reserved judgment in the appeal by the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, against the judgment of the tribunal which declared the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, David Ombugadu, the winner of the state governorship election.

The tribunal led by Justice Ezekiel Ajayi in a split judgment held that based on the proof from the various polling units before the tribunal,  Ombugadu had the majority of valid votes at the election

But Sule appealed the judgment and asked the appellate court to set it aside.

At the hearing on Wednesday, counsel for the governor, Wole Olanipekun SAN, argued that the tribunal misapplied the law in reaching its decision.

Olanipekun argued that the Tribunal refused to take the submissions of their witnesses during the Tribunal hearing and that data from the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) tendered to the Tribunal were merely dumped and without being properly explained.

In his response, after adopting his processes, Kanu Agabi (SAN) counsel to Ombugadu and the PDP urged the Court to dismiss the appeal against the Tribunal judgment stating that their evidence was merely documentary.

On the issue of BVAS, Agabi argued that it was sufficiently demonstrated in the Tribunal as demanded by laws, with the various printouts from the machine shown, against the argument that they were merely dumped without being analyzed.

Agabi who referred the court to the judgment of the Tribunal argued that in delivering judgment, the lower court painstakingly gave a clear breakdown of how it arrived at its decision.

Recalled governor Sule had filed the Notice of Appeal through his lead Counsel against the judgment of the lower court that nullified his election as the winner of the March 18 governorship election held in Nasarawa state.

The tribunal also declared PDP’s candidate, Mr David Ombugadu, as the lawful winner of the March 18 governorship election in the state.

Governor Sule rejected the judgment by Justice Ezekiel Ajayi, describing its position as unmeritorious and devoid of evidential support base or pillars, even as vowed to appeal the decision.

According to the notice of appeal, the governor listed 27 grounds of appeals for determination by the appellate court.

Among others, he questioned the trial tribunal’s jurisdictional competence to order the immediate swearing-in of Ombugadu as the governor, pointing out that not being the final court; the tribunal lacks the requisite competence to do so.

He also averred that the majority decision of the lower Tribunal in declaring the return of PDP’s Ombugadu failed to be bound by the provisions of Section 179 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as Amended and Section 66 of the Electoral Act 2022.

He equally emphasized that there was no evidence before the tribunal demonstrating the percentage of votes scored by Ombugadu vis-a-vis the total votes cast in two-thirds of the 13 Local Government Areas of the State to satisfy the provisions of Section 179(2) of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.

Ombugadu, PDP, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents were part of those who joined in the appeal.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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