Tribunal: April Poll Free, Fair…. and Jonathan Won

No Comments » November 2nd, 2011 posted by // Categories: Elections 2011



 

THIS DAY

 

Tribunal: April Poll Free, Fair…. and Jonathan Won

02 Nov 2011

 

From Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja yesterday dismissed the petition filed by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) challenging the declaration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the winner of the April 16th presidential election.

In a unanimous judgment, all the five justices who constituted the tribunal agreed that the CPC did not prove the allegations of rigging, ballot stuffing and arbitrary allocation of votes levelled against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

CPC had alleged that Jonathan did not win the presidential election and that the election was not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act 2010.

The tribunal upheld the poll as being free and fair and dismissed the petition in its entirety for lacking in merit and in substance.
It held that Jonathan was validly elected as president by Nigerians having scored majority of lawful votes cast in the election contrary to the CPC allegations.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Kummai Bayang Akaahs, who delivered the tribunal judgment, held that the CPC petition was founded on hearsay.

The tribunal further held that the 47 witnesses who testified in favour of CPC did not help matters with their “unsubstantiated” and “worthless” evidence.

It was held that what the CPC brought before the tribunal was a bundle of allegations bordering on crimes of corrupt practices like ballot stuffing, inflation of votes, ballot box snatching and criminal intimidation which were not proved.

Justice Akaahs said the allegation by CPC that INEC used military vehicles to convey sensitive election materials to states was “inconsequential” because the party failed to show how the use of the vehicles negatively affected the election.

The tribunal also upheld the refusal of INEC to release the electronic data base to CPC. It held that, in law, INEC had no power to release the electronic data base to CPC to prove its allegations of rigging and arbitrary votes’ allocation.

Justice Akaahs said the tribunal reasoned that such electronic data base if released to a political party would expose the secrecy of the election and as such would run against the law.

However, in a sharp reaction to the judgment, CPC National Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, said that his party would test the popularity and acceptability of the verdict at the Supreme Court.

Momoh told newsmen shortly after the verdict that there were three judgments – judgment of God, judgment of conscience and judgment of man – adding that the apex court would be approached for decision on the validity of the presidential election.

While reviewing the evidence called by the CPC during the hearing of the petition, Justice Akaahs held that CPC relied heavily on the use of roving agents to prove its petition instead of calling accredited polling agents that represented the party and signed all the necessary forms.

Besides, the tribunal also stated that election results in the 35 states of the federation were not tendered even though CPC alleged nationwide poll-rigging.

According to him, the result of Anambra State tendered by CPC did not prove that election was rigged and that it could not be the basis for calling for the cancellation of results in other states.

The tribunal also recalled the mix-up in the evidence of the CPC National Chairman, Momoh, and National Secretary Alhaji Buba Galadima, which were expunged from court record because of the exchange of the evidence in the open court.

He said whichever angle the petition was looked at, it was replete with allegations of crimes allegedly committed during the election which were not proved.

He said: “With the painstaking scrutiny of the petition and totality of the evidence adduced on alleged rigging, money sharing, votes allocations, intimidation and non-substantial compliance with Electoral Act among others, the result of the election was not successfully challenged and as such the petition fails.”

The CPC had on May 8 filed the petition to challenge the emergence of Jonathan and his running mate, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, as winners of the presidential poll.

CPC alleged that the election was marred with irregularities such as over-voting, ballot box-snatching, intimidation, non-accreditation of voters, vote sharing and inducement with money among others.

It then asked that the declaration of Jonathan as winner on April 18 was unlawful and should be nullified, voided and set aside on account that he did not win the lawful majority votes and that a fresh election should be conducted between its candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, and the president.

To prove the petition, the party called 47 out of its 151 witnesses and tendered some documents which the tribunal declared as worthless.

 

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