Posted by By EMMANUEL ADEYEMI, Lokoja on
Kogi State Election Tribunal on Wednesday nullified the April 14 governorship election, which brought Governor Ibrahim Idirs to office.
Kogi State Election Tribunal on Wednesday nullified the April 14 governorship election, which brought Governor Ibrahim Idirs to office. It ordered a fresh election in the next three months.
The tribunal cancelled the election on the grounds that the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, was unlawfully excluded from contesting in the election.
In its judgment delivered by the chairman, Justice Ibrahim Bako, the tribunal ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had no constitutional power to exclude a validly nominated candidate of any political party from any election whatsoever.
The tribunal berated INEC for its non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral law and therefore, declared the exclusion of the ANPP candidate as unlawful, null and void.
The tribunal said: "The exclusion of the ANPP governorship contender is unlawful, ultra vires, null and void and cannot stand,'' adding: ``The return of the first and second respondents is, hereby, nullified in accordance with the provisions of Section 147 (1) of the Electoral Act 2006.''
In granting the prayers of ANPP for the nullification of the election, the tribunal said that Audu was unlawfully excluded from participating in the polls, an action it said disenfranchised its supporters.
On the White Paper indicting Audu, the tribunal held that government agencies, such as INEC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) lacked the constitutional powers to order the disqualification of a candidate for an election. He said Audu was duly sponsored and validly nominated by ANPP, having won the partyís primaries.
The tribunal also noted that INEC screened Audu and printed ballot papers with his name, photograph and party's symbol, preparatory to his participation in the election, wondering why the commission removed the petitioners' names from the ballot papers
on the eve of the election.
"If it has not done that, it would not have found itself in the present mess," the tribunal said.
Reacting to the ruling, counsel to Prince Audu and ANPP, Chief Alex Izinyon (SAN), who led a team of 12 lawyers, applauded the judgment and praised members of the tribunal for their integrity and forthrightness.
Counsel to Governor Idris and PDP, Chief Pius Akubo, however, said his client would file an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Earlier, the tribunal dismissed the suit of Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate, Senator Mohammed Ohiare on the grounds that the evidences presented before it were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
The tribunal chairman, in his valedictory speech commended the media for their fair, balanced and unbiased reportage throughout the duration of the tribunal.
The ANPP and Audu had filed the petition against INEC and 50 others, contesting
their exclusion from the election. INEC had purportedly excluded the party and its candidate from participating in the poll on the grounds that Audu was indicted for corruption by a Federal Government administrative panel.
Commenting on the tribunal ruling, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar said the judiciary had done the country proud once again.
In the statement by Mallam Garba Shehu, his media spokesman, Atiku said: "More elected officials will tumble because there were no elections at all in most parts of the country. The courts will continue to be the last hope for saving this democracy."