The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Minna on Wednesday upheld the election of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mohammed Nasko, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the March 9 governorship election and his party had dragged Mr Bello, who is the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bello and his deputy before the tribunal.
The petitioners alleged that the duo presented forged academic and declaration of age certificates to INEC, which was the crux of their case.
The chairman of the tribunal, John Igboji, while delivering judgment, held that the petitioners merely pleaded facts without substantiating them with evidence.
Mr Igboji also said that the tribunal cannot sit as an appellate court on an issue already decided by the Federal High Court.
“We have come to the inevitable conclusion that the petitioners have failed to establish their case as there is no shred of cogent evidence in proof of the allegation as required by relevant laws.
“In the circumstance we accordingly hold that the petitioners are not entitled to any relief sought, their petition being bereft of any merit and the petition is hereby dismissed for lack of merit.
“We, therefore, affirm and uphold the election of the first respondent, Alhaji Abubakar Bello as the duly elected governor of Niger state,” he said.
The tribunal also awarded N50,000 cost each against the petitioners.
Reacting to the judgment, the Counsel to the petitioner, Mohammed Ndayako, said the case was knocked out on technical grounds.
Mr Ndayako noted that the petitioners would carefully study the judgment before deciding on the next line of action.
The counsel to Mr Bello, Jibrin Okutepa, described the judgment as “sound one”, saying it was a “great jurisprudential exposition”.
Also, Chief of Staff to the governor, Ibrahim Balarabe, said the judgment is a victory for democracy and the people of the state.
Mr Balarabe called on the petitioners to join hands with the governor to move the state forward.