THE 2019 general elections might have been won and lost, the tribunals have continued to upturn some victories and losses.
Since the setting of the election petition tribunals to look into petitions arising from the elections which were generally criticised as being fundamentally flawed, a number of mandates have been retrieved.
Depending on when the results and winners were announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in each case, the petition tribunals have till sometime in September or October to deliver judgements on the applications before them.
Section 134 of the 2010 Electoral Act stipulates that any election petition shall be filed within 21 days of the announcement while the tribunal is required to give its ruling in writing within 180 days from the day the petition is filed. Appeals of the rulings are also expected to be resolved within the following 90 days.
Below are some of the politicians affected by tribunal decisions voiding electoral victories from the 2019 general elections till date.
While many still have a chance of overruling the decisions on appeal, there’s one case where the Supreme Court itself has given a final verdict.
Supreme Court sacks Mukhtar Idris and 35 other Zamafara APC candidates
The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision delivered in May, nullified the victory of all candidates of the APC who contested in Zamfara State during the general elections. In total, 36 members of the party lost their seats, from the gubernatorial candidate (Mukhtar Idris) and his running mate to National Assembly and State Assembly aspirants. Replacing them were candidates of the PDP who had the second-highest amounts of votes.
According to the apex court, votes that accrued to the APC candidates were a waste as the party conducted no primaries in Zamfara.
In August, some members of the APC, including former deputy governor Mukhtar Anka and former state assembly speaker Bature Sambo defected to the PDP. Anka explained that they were moved by the exemplary leadership of Bello Mutawalle, the governor and member of the PDP whom Idris lost to.
Dino Melaye’s victory voided
On Thursday, August 23, a Kogi-based election tribunal nullified the election of Dino Melaye as the lawmaker representing Kogi West senatorial district and demanded that a fresh election should be conducted.
Melaye is a candidate of the PDP and had had his victory challenged by Smart Adeyemi, the APC candidate in the same race who was declared runner-up.
He is also one of 13 aspirants for Kogi’s top executive seat cleared by the PDP for the gubernatorial election coming up in November.
PRP’s Abdulkadir Umar Sarki loses at Tribunal
Sarki’s election was nullified last Thursday by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Bauchi.
Having contested on the platform of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), he is representing the Katagum Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives. His victory was challenged by APC candidate Ibrahim Mohammed Baba.
The tribunal held that the election should have been declared inconclusive taking into account the cancellation of results from seven polling units, votes from which exceed the margin between the two top candidates. It also ordered for a rerun.
Dambazau’s son victory nullified
Kano State’s election petition tribunal on Friday declared the announcement of Shamsudeen Dambazau, son of former minister of interior, as the lawmaker representing the Sumaila/Takai federal constituency a nullity.
Kawu Sumaila who won the party primaries was disqualified by the Federal High Court, and Dambazau had been the first runner-up.
Clarifying the implication of Sumaila’s disqualification, the tribunal said the seat belongs rather to the party that came second in the election, not the runner-up at the APC primaries. The tribunal, therefore, ordered the electoral commission to issue a certificate of return to Surajo Kanawa, the PDP candidate.
The court held: “If a tribunal or court found out that a candidate did not participate in any stage of the election process, the tribunal has no option other than to declare the next candidate with the highest number of votes, as the winner in the election.”
Sumaila’s counsel stated that his client has accepted the court’s decision.
Bamidele Salam too
On Monday, September 2, the election petition tribunal in Osogbo, Osun, voided elections conducted in some units in four local governments, citing over-voting as the reason, and ordered for a rerun. This, in effect, nullified the election of Bamidele Salam, a candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) representing the Ede Constituency at the House of Representatives.
Salam told journalists the verdict is not acceptable to him and he will consult his lawyer on how to challenge it.
Meanwhile, one of the most-anticipated decisions with regards to the general elections is that of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal. All parties have closed their arguments and the tribunal has reserved its judgement.
Justice Mohammed Garba who heads the five-man panel said on Thursday, August 22, that the judgement will be delivered at a later date to communicated to the parties’ counsel.