APC, INEC to address Kaduna governorship tribunal August 4

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Kaduna State Governorship Election Tribunal on Thursday adjourned sitting till August 4, for counsel to the respondents to file their written addresses and responses in line with the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.

Justice Ibrahim Bako, Chairman of the tribunal also fixed August 11 for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Alhaji Isah Ashiru, its candidate in the March 9 poll and petitioners to file their reply on matters of law.

The petitioners are challenging the re-election of Gov Nasiru El-Rufai, who is the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the gubernatorial poll.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared El-Rufai winner of the gubernatorial election having scored 1,045,427 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Alhaji Isah Ashiru, who polled 814,168 votes.

Not satisfied with the outcome of the poll, PDP and its candidate filed a petition before the governorship tribunal with El-Rufai, INEC and APC as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.

The petitioners had called 135 witnesses to testify on how the election was allegedly marred by violence, ballot stuffing and other irregularities.

The 1st and 2nd respondents had called two witnesses each and closed their defence.

Bako’s ruling was sequel to a motion by counsel to the 3rd respondent, APC, Mr. Ibrahim Bawa (SAN), after the party had closed its defence.

According to the schedule, the tribunal had given 10 days for the respondents to file their written addresses, starting from Thursday, July 25.

Bako also gave the petitioners seven days to respond, adding that they also have five days to reply on matters of law.

Afterwards, counsel will adopt their written addresses, Bako further ruled.

“By this ruling, the respondents have been given up to August 4 to file their written addresses while the petitioners have up to August 11 to respond.

“In addition, the petitioners have up to August 16 to reply on points of law. On August 19, counsel will adopt their written addresses.”

Earlier, Bawa in his motion, prayed the tribunal to grant counsel dates for final written addresses on the petition.

According to him, his team had reviewed their earlier stand of calling 15 witnesses.

Bawa saïd the 3rd respondent had resolved to close its case by not calling more witnesses.

The APC counsel said that he was guided by the provision of paragraph 46 of the 1st schedule of the Electoral Act, sub paragraph 11 to 13.

It will be recalled that the APC had called two witnesses at the tribunal, including Samaila Ibrahim Paki, Chairman of the party in Ikara local government, who had testified on Wednesday and Alhaji Suleiman Abdu Kwari, the Senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District at the National Assembly.

Kwari, who testified on Thursday, said that he was the state collation agent of APC, and that he didn’t visit all the polling units in Kaduna state.

Under cross examination, Kwari told the tribunal that he knew all the results through APC ward agents and that he did not notice any anomaly in the results.

However, counsel to the petitioner, Mr. Elisha Kurah (SAN) said that the results on Forms EC8A and EC8B in Madami ward in Zaria local government were not the same.

According to Kurah, APC and PDP scored 243 votes and 53 votes respectively on Form EC8A, while APC got 608 votes as against PDP’s 23 votes on Form EC8B.

Kwari, however, said that such a situation could arise if results of voting points were not added to that of the polling units.

Nnenna.O