The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday reversed the sack of the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule by the State Election Petitions Tribunal in its judgment delivered on October 2.
The Appellate Court held that the Tribunal headed 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.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Uchechukwu Onyemenam, the Court of Appeal said 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 Court held that no petition can lawfully be amended outside the 21 days allowed by law as wrongly done by the Tribunal.
Since the statements used by the Tribunal to sack the Governor were not front-loaded in compliance with the law, the statements were a product is illegal with no probate value for a law Court to act upon.
The Court also dismissed the over-voting issues used to annul the election, arguing that the allegations were not established by law.
Justice Onyemenam held that the petition by the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, was a nullity and invalid on the grounds that the jurisdictional issues raised by the governor were unlawfully ignored by the Tribunal.
The Court of Appeal ruled that the Tribunal denied the Governor a fair hearing by not considering and making findings on the issues of jurisdiction raised at the hearing of the petition.
Justice Onyemenam agreed that the denial of a fair hearing against the governor was fatal and tendered all decisions of the Tribunal invalid.
In all, the Court of Appeal reversed all orders made against the governor and the Independent National Electoral Commission, and affirmed Sule as the lawfully elected governor of the state.
INEC had declared Sule the winner of the governorship election on the grounds that he polled a total of 347,209 votes to defeat his closest opponent David Emmanuel Ombugadu who secured 283,016 votes.
In a split decision on October 2, the tribunal nullified Sule’s election and upheld Ombugadu as the winner.