Friday 8 January 2016

Justice John Okoro-led Supreme Court upholds Zamfara governor’s election

Governor Yari

The Supreme Court has upheld the election of Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State.  Abdulazeez Yari who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship flag bearer and ran against Alhaji Mahmud Shinkafi, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the April 11 poll in the state.
The Justice John Okoro-led panel of six justices held that the petition lacked merit and equally dismissed it. The court pointed out that the grouse of the appellants in the issue was that there was over-voting and that because of that there was substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act. It held that to prove over-voting, the law is trite that the petitioner must tender the voters’ register.

Justice Okoro in his ruling stated that ”The court must also see the statement of result in the appropriate forms which would show the number of registered accredited voters and number of actual voters.”
“From the finding above, I agree with the court below that the appellants failed woefully to prove over-voting in accordance with the principles laid down by law.
“The reliance on the evidence of one of the witnesses through a document he did not make has not made any difference”.
“There is no doubt that a petitioner is entitled to contend that an election or re-run in an election be invalidated by reason of corrupt practice or non-compliance”
“There is need for a petitioner who alleges over-voting to lead concrete evidence to show that there was indeed over-voting and that it inured to the winner of the contest”.
“Without doubt, over-voting in an election can be in favour of the appellant, the respondent or other contestants who participated and lost at the election but are not parties to the petition”.
“Therefore, the onus is on the petitioner to show that the over-voting was in favour of the respondent and that it was as a result of the over-voting that the Yari won the election’’ 
Justice Okoro said: “in this case, the appellants alleged that there was over-voting by 86,045 votes’’.
“Assuming that the appellants were able to prove over-voting by that figure, a reduction of that number from the score of the first respondent (Yari) put at 716,964 votes will not make any difference.
“It means that the appellant would attracted a total of 201,938 votes which would have changed the position of the result of the election and that Yari would still be left with 630,919 votes’’ .
“Having resolved all the issues adopted for determination of this appeal against the appellants, it is crystal clear that this appeal is devoid of any scintilla of merit and is accordingly dismissed.
“I uphold the decision of the Court of Appeal delivered Nov.12, 2015 which upheld the judgment of the trial tribunal”.
“I therefore, award costs of N100, 000 against the appellants in favour of the first and second respondents”,

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