The Kano State governorship election petition tribunal has upheld the election of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
Delivering the four-hour judgment on Wednesday, the chairman of the three-member panel, Halima Shamaki, announced the dismissal of the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Abba Yusuf.
Mr Yusuf and the PDP had filed the petition against Mr Ganduje, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) challenging the governor’s victory in the March 23 supplementary election.
Justice Shamaki said INEC was right both in declaring the March 9 election as inconclusive and in declaring Mr Ganduje the winner of the re-run election.
She said the petitioners claiming the electoral rules and guidelines were not complied with in an election they claimed to have won the majority of lawful votes is a paradox. “It’s like trying to mix oil and water,” the judge said.
Mrs Shamaki added that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations of corrupt practices and non-compliance by the respondents beyond a reasonable doubt.
She said that declaring an election as inconclusive where there are lawful reasons is constitutional.
“The carbonised copies of documentary evidence tendered by the petitioners were mostly unstamped, some are unsigned, others contained re-written data, hence amounted to documentary hearsay and therefore inadmissible.
“We shall not go into details in the petition. He who asserts must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Respondents are not bound to prove. In civil cases, the burden to prove lies on the plaintiff. Where the plaintiff fails to prove his case, the case must fail. As such, the petition is hereby dismissed,” she declared.
Three judges on the tribunal unanimously adopted the judgment.
‘Victory is genuine’
In its reaction, the PDP, through its chairman in Kano State, Rabi’u Suleiman-Bichi, said they would study the judgement and decide on the next line of action.
The state APC chairman, Abdullahi Abbas, however, said the judgement is a clear indication that the people of Kano had voted for Mr Ganduje.
Mr Abbas called on the opposition to join hands with the state government in moving the state forward.
In a swift reaction, Mr Ganduje described the ruling as another round of victory, saying the truth has prevailed again.
“When the election was held we won and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) decided to challenge our victory at the election tribunal. It is clear to all now that our victory is genuine, as confirmed by the tribunal,” the governor said in a statement issued by Abba Anwar, his Chief Press Secretary.
Mr Ganduje pledged not to discriminate in spreading development across the 44 local government areas of the state.
“I am the governor for all, without any discrimination. And this is part of the cardinal principles of our great party, All Progressives Party (APC).”
He reiterated his resolve to continue to run an all-inclusive government, with open-door policies, as he initiated in his first tenure in office. “I will remain resolute, committed, focused and extremely dedicated to serving the people of our great state.”
Mr Ganduje thanked the people for electing him for a second term and urged them to remain resolute in their prayers for his administration.
“Today is but another day of joy and jubilation when the tribunal confirmed and reconfirmed our earlier victory as given to us by Allah when we were elected by the electorate,” he concluded.
Heavily armed police officers have remained stationed along the major roads in Kano metropolis.
Our correspondent observed police vehicles around Kano Government House and all roads leading to Miller Road, venue of the court as well as Luggard Road, headquarters of the Kwankwasiyya Movement.
To forestall an outbreak of violence between the rival sets of supporters after the verdict, the police had banned all forms of political gatherings in the state ahead of the verdict.