The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the appeal challenging the election of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.
Following the declaration of Mohammed as the winner, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Sadique Abubakar, approached the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in the state, challenging the victory.
Chairman of the three-man panel, P. T. Kwahar, in his judgment, affirmed the victory of Mohammed, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
However, not satisfied with the tribunal’s judgment, Abubakar filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal challenging the decision of the lower court.
A three-member panel on Friday unanimously held that the appeal by AVM Sadique Abubakar lacked merit, awarding no cost as the court ruled that each party to the matter should bear their costs.
In the lead judgment read by Justice Chidiebere Nwaoma Uwa on Friday, held that Abubakar and the APC failed to prove the allegations of malpractices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022 against Governor Mohammed and the PDP.
The presiding justice read the judgment in the order of the appellant’s plea before the appeal court.
On plea number one, the appellant pleaded that the election be nullified because the forms and booklets used in the election were not properly filled. The court ruled that the appellant failed to prove this allegation with the needed evidence.
The court also ruled that the appellant failed to state the polling units involved in the said allegations and that he was unable to state what was missing in the forms. It further held that the appellant was unable to prove how the said improperly filled forms affected the results of the election.
The court held that the witnesses called by the appellant were unable to prove that they understood what the forms looked like, while commending the tribunal for doing a thorough
job by scrutinising the evidence before it.
On the plea that there was massive non-compliance with the electoral laws, the court ruled that the appellant again could not prove this, as some of the witnesses who testified did not vote on election day and those who voted only spoke based on what they saw in their polling units alone.
On the issue of the alleged unprofessional conduct of INEC officials, the court held the same views as the tribunal, saying it was never part of the plea by the appellant at the lower court and that it was not pleaded and could not be argued.
The plea was ruled in favour of the first respondent, Mohammed.
In the plea about fraudulent cancellations, mutilations and alterations to favour the PDP candidate, the appeal court noted that, if proven, falsification of results is a criminal matter that could lead to the cancellation of election results.
However, according to the court, the appellant had the burden to prove this and had to bring the genuine one, if he argued the one tendered by INEC was falsified.