In March , the INEC declared PDP’s Mutfwang the winner of the election after he secured 525,299 votes, to defeat the APC Candidate, Professor Nentawe Yilwatda, who garnered 481,370 votes.
Dissatisfied with the results as declared by the Commission, Nentawe and the APC approached the tribunal seeking redress. INEC, Mutfwang and PDP are listed as the first, second and third respondents, respectively.
Nentawe & APC’s petitions are premised on 3 grounds:
(1) That the 2nd Respondent was not qualified to participate in the election because his Party, the PDP had no valid structure in the State and hence could not produce a Candidate to contest the aforesaid Office.
(2) That INEC didn’t comply with the Electoral Act and guidelines during the conduct of the election.
(3) That 14 Polling Units were excluded from Naraguta B Ward in Jos North LGA, alongside non-use of the BVAS in several wards.
The Petitioners called up 49 witnesses, the PDP 4 witnesses and INEC didn’t call any witness.
The Court dismissed the preliminary objections and delved into the merit of the petition.
On Ground 1
“The witness under cross-examination admitted he is not a member of the PDP, but that he got the information from an agent about the Primaries and hitherto the invalid PDP Structure in the State. His evidence is declared incompetent and all documents tendered through them are rejected.”
The tribunal is of the view that the 3rd Respondent (PDP) conducted a repeat Congress on 25th September 2021 which was upheld by the Appeal Court in February 2023.(Augustine Timkuk Vs PDP).
The APC witness under its cross-examination admitted that there was a repeat Congress.What is admitted needs no further proof. The APC has admitted in its petition that the PDP repeated its congress.
The tribunal held that no matter how disgruntled another person feels on the conduct of another party’s primaries, it must keep mum as it is not a member of that party. Such a person therefore, lacks the locus standi to challenge such a congress or primary election.
The Petitioner is obviously crying more than the bereaved. Hence, the Petitioners dwelled on multiple pre-election matters. The tribunal says it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the Petitioner’s challenge of the repeated congress as they are busybodies and meddlesome interlopers.
Issues surrounding Party Congresses, nomination and sponsorship are pre-election matters, the PDP has a valid and reliable structure in the State, Ground 1 is resolved in favour of the Respondents, the tribunal held.
On Ground 2On cross-examination, the witnesses called by the Petitioners agreed that where there was no BVAS, it was four out of four voters.
The Petitioners failed to show there was over-voting on a polling unit by polling unit basis. Their evidence is at best hearsays.
There was multiple arithmetic errors and inconsistencies by the expert witness presented by the petitioners. These are signals for the tribunal to take the evidence by a pinch of salt.
A Petitioner in an election matter is expected to produce two copies of election results, one he is alleging is wrong and the actual copies.This they failed to do as required by law. The Petitioners only provided the results tendered by INEC.
The attempt by the petitioner to prove over-voting falls like a pack of cards. Ground 2 is also resolved in favour of the respondents, the tribunal held.
Ground 3The tribunal held that despite the wild allegations by Petitioners, there is no evidence to show that the election was not lawfully held as Petitioners did not tender another result to be considered authentic, there is therefore no basis to nullify the election.
There were very many errors by Petitioners’ expert witness under Cross examination and a primary 6 pupil will do better in his basic arithmetic.
The Petitioners’ petition is a wild goose chase and is bound to fail. The petition is thereby dismissed for lacking in merit.
count | 463