The Kano Election Petition Tribunal’s ruling on the March 18, 2023, Kano State Gubernatorial Election has come under intense scrutiny, with multiple organizations and experts pointing out serious flaws in the judgment.
The Political Analysts Forum, Democracy Protectors, and Good Governance have jointly expressed their reservations about the tribunal’s decision. They have highlighted several critical issues that they believe contradict both the Nigerian Constitution and electoral guidelines.
This was contained in a press statement issued to newsmen by Executive Director of the Forum, Comr. Al-Amin Albarra.
The statement revealed the tribunal’s judgment is said to have contradicted Section 179 Sub-Section 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on three essential grounds. It is argued that the ruling failed to ensure that the winner met the requirement of winning two-thirds of the total Local Government Areas, securing at least 25% of the total votes cast in each Local Government, and winning the highest votes or a simple majority.
Furthermore, the statement cited Section 26 of INEC Guidelines, which states that if the number of cancelled votes exceeds the margin votes, the election should be declared inconclusive. In this case, the tribunal allegedly disregarded official INEC results and introduced a new outcome in favor of the APC candidate.
The controversy doesn’t end there. Section 63 Sub-Section 2 of the 2022 Electoral Act was brought into the spotlight, suggesting that in cases where party agents unanimously identify unsigned and unstamped ballot papers, they should be considered valid votes.
On the issue of jurisdiction, the statement argued that the APC had no right to petition the non-membership of the NNPP candidate of his mother party, as outlined in Section 285 (9) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. Section 157 of the same constitution was cited, indicating that only those who participated in the Primary Election of the party have the right to petition the winner of the primaries.
“One of the most contentious points was the deduction of questionable votes by the tribunal, which amounted to 165,663. This decision was criticized as it involved a separate political party, NNPP, and was deemed to be outside the tribunal’s jurisdiction” the statement revealed.
In light of these compelling arguments and constitutional discrepancies, many are questioning the validity of the Election Tribunal’s Judgment. Speculations are rife that the ruling may be set aside or dissolved by the Appeal Court or Supreme Court.
The organizations and experts who have expressed these concerns are urging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to appeal the judgment promptly, as it is the first respondent in the petition filed by the APC.