The Sokoto Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has reserved judgment in the petition against Gov. Ahmed Aliyu and Dep. Gov. Idris Gobir, filed by Sa’idu Umar of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Haruna Mshelia, reserved judgment after parties adopted their final written addresses on Saturday, adding that a date would be communicated to parties in September.
The Petitioner, Umar is challenging the election of Gov. Aliyu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Gobir over alleged non qualification and electoral fraud during the March 18 governorship election.
At the sitting, lead Counsel to the petitioner, Aare Akinboro SAN, urged the Tribunal to consider the evidences and witnesses from party agents that proved gross irregularities in the election, mostly marred by violence.
Akinboro argued that more importantly, the evidence that showed discrepancy in Gov. Aliyu’s secondary school and university certificates that were different from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) presented documents.
He prayed the tribunal to take cognisance of the School Register of Town Primary School, Sabon Birni, from 1986-1987 and a letter from Town Model Primary School Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
He highlighted that records of all registered schools in Sabon Birni Local Government from Federal Ministry of Education, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Local Government Education Authority and other related exhibits should be perused.
He added that non of the government agencies had records of existence of Model Primary School as stated by Gobir to be the school that issued him primary certificate.
Akinboro argued that the petitioners had successfully established facts in proof of all the grounds as 32 competent witnesses that comprised INEC officials, State PDP chairman, headmaster of the Town Model Primary School Sabon Birni, and others were presented and admitted documents.
He further urged the tribunal to dismiss all the preliminary objections on competency to institute the case.
He also urged the tribunal to disregard objections on the admissibility of documents tendered as they were relevant and germane.
The petitioners counsel said based on the submissions, the respondents at the time of the election, were not qualified to contest the election and prayed that by virtue of the non qualification, votes were wrongfully attributed to them.
According to him, respondents abandoned facts as they presented two defence witnesses who were unable to counter or prove otherwise the facts presented by 32 witnesses and bundle of evidences.
He prayed the tribunal to void Gov. Aliyu’s election and declare Umar the winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
Petitioners also prayed the tribunal to mandate INEC to issue a new certificate of return to the petitioner as the duly elected Governor of Sokoto State, having scored the majority of the lawful votes cast or order for another election, excluding the respondents.
The respondents counsel, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, also adopted their final written addresses, disagreeing with arguments and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
Olanipekun averred that relevant documents and right witnesses have been presented along guiding laws.
APC Counsel, Mr Hassan Liman SAN, argued that “mere variation of name does not validate candidacy as arrangement of names does deter Gov. Aliyu’s qualification”.
The respondents prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition and uphold the election of Gov. Aliyu and Gobir. (NAN)