The Taraba State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Jalingo on Saturday upheld the election of Gov. Agbu Kefas of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the governor of the state.
The three-man panel of justices led by Justice G. A. Sunmonu dismissed the petition filed by the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, and its candidate, Prof. Sani Yahaya for lacking in merit.
The NNPP and its candidate had instituted a case against the victory of PDP and its candidate Governor Kefas in the March 18 governorship election on the ground of corrupt practices, non-compliant to the Electoral Act of 2022, over voting, mutilation of result sheets and alleged violence in polling units.
The court ruled that the petitioner who is claiming to have scored the majority of lawful votes cast is inconsistent as he is also asking that same election be declared invalid, yet valid to declare him winner.
“The petitioners failed to prove allegations of over-voting as the witnesses they called failed to demonstrate or prove the allegation of over-voting. The witnesses also failed to proof that they were polling unit agents of the petitioners as most of them relied on hearsay evidence.
“There were contradiction in the statement of witnesses called by the petitioner. The witnesses gave inconsistent responses in their affidavit and oral testimony during cross examination.
“Where there are conflicts in the evidences of witnesses, the tribunal cannot choose which one to use but to reject all. The burden is on the petitioners to proof that the election was conducted in non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“The petitioner failed to proof their case to warrant the reliefs sought. The two issues formulated by the petitioners in their final written addressed are therefore resolved against them.
“The petition lacks merit, we accordingly reaffirm the election and return of Agbu Kefas as the duly elected Governor of Taraba State and parties are to bear their cost”, the tribunal ruled.
Counsels to the state Governor and the INEC both welcome the judgment saying there was no reason for appeal by the petitioner.
In the said election, the PDP and its candidate won in 11 Local Government Areas, the NNPP won 3 while the APC won only 2 Local Government Areas.