Supreme Court reserves judgment in Nasarawa governorship poll

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule

The Supreme Court has reserved judgement in the appeal filed by David Ombugadu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the election of Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule.

Ombugadu and Sule have been in a running legal tussle over the outcome of the March 18, 2023 governorship election in Nasarawa State.

On Tuesday, the court presided over by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun reserved the judgments to a date to be communicated to the parties after counsels to the appellants and respondents adopted their briefs of argument.

The apex court also reserved judgement in the appeal filed by Major General Aminu Bande, the PDP governorship candidate in Kebbi State, challenging the election of Nasir Idris of the APC as the governor of the state.

Last year, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Sule the winner of the March 18 governorship election. Sule polled 347, 209 votes to defeat his closest opponent, PDP’s Ombugadu who got 283, 016 votes.

Dissatisfied with the election outcome, the PDP candidate approached the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, challenging INEC’s declaration of Sule as the winner of the poll.

He complained to the tribunal that his actual votes were unjustifiably reduced. At the same time, Abdullahi Sule of the APC was increased to aid Sule to victory, particularly in the forms EC8Bs of Gayam and Chiroma Wards of Lafia Local Government Area.

About seven months later, Ombugadu got judgement in his favour on October 2 as the tribunal nullified Sule’s election and declared him as the winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the state.

Delivering the judgment virtually, the Chairman of the tribunal Justice Ezekiel Ajayi declared Ombugadu of the PDP as the lawfully elected governor of Nasarawa State.

Sule, who was displeased with the tribunal ruling, appealed the verdict at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Ruling on the appeal on November 23, the appellate court reversed the sack of Gov Sule by the State Election Petitions Tribunal.

The three-member panel led by Justice Uchechukwu Onyemenam held that the Tribunal was legally bound to act on witness statements filed along with the petition or front-loaded within 21 days stipulated by law.

The appellate court held that the tribunal led by Ezekiel Ajayi acted in grave error in using witness statements on oath not front-loaded as required by law to arrive at the unjust conclusion of nullifying the election of the governor.