Tribunal declares Ombugadu winner of Nasarawa governorship election


In a groundbreaking verdict, yesterday, the Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal, sitting in Lafia, declared David Ombugadu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the rightful winner.

In the virtual judgment, presided over by Ezekiel Ajayi and supported by Chiemelie Onaga, which lasted over four hours, the majority decision of the tribunal proclaimed Ombugadu as winner and rejected the initial declaration of Governor Abdullahi Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The tribunal examined the lawful results from polling units and concluded that Ombugadu secured the majority of valid votes. Ajayi emphasised that the PDP candidate had substantiated claims of result manipulation in favour of the APC and provided evidence in the form of forms EC 8A.

Consequently, the tribunal issued a directive to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to revoke the certificate of return previously issued to Sule and to instead issue a new one to the rightful winner, Ombugadu.

While the majority decision prevailed, there was a dissenting judgment delivered by Ibrahim Mashi, member of the panel. Mashi dismissed the PDP candidate’s petition, citing a lack of merit and affirming Governor Sule’s victory.

The only dissenting judgment was delivered by Mashi, who dismissed the petition filed by the PDP candidate for lacking in merit.

He said the petitioner failed to prove his case and upheld INEC’s declaration of Sule as winner.

Reacting to the tribunal’s decision, Ombugadu’s counsel, Johnson Usman, lauded it for a detailed judgment.

The counsel said the tribunal had proved the court is the last hope of the common man by affirming the decision of the majority of the people of the state at the poll.

The PDP, in a statement by his National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, described the tribunal verdict as a victory for democracy and the triumph of the will of the people of Nasarawa State.

The opposition party, while congratulating Ombugadu, lauded the tribunal for its courage in upholding the will of the people and showing that, indeed, the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.

“The verdict of the tribunal is victory for democracy and the triumph of the will of the people of Nasarawa in their quest to liberate their state from the stranglehold of corrupt, oppressive and manipulative forces.

“The spontaneous jubilation across Nasarawa and other states of the federation shows the judgment of the tribunal is in line with aspiration and choice of majority of the people of Nasarawa in their resolve to return the state to the path of peace and economic development on the platform of PDP.

“Our party commends the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal for its courage in upholding the will of the people and showing that, indeed, the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.

“This tribunal judgment points to the fact that the outcome of a proper application of the laws, rules and facts by the judiciary, as witnessed in this case, will always confirm and validate the will of the people.

“Our party salutes the resoluteness, courage and dexterity of the good people of Nasarawa State in insisting their will, as expressed at that election, be upheld.”

Governor Sule has vowed to appeal the majority judgment that annulled his declaration.

The governor stated this on Monday in Lafia while reacting the spilt judgment of the tribunal.

He said the judgment was a temporary setback that they would learn from in order to re-strategise and come out stronger.

“I still remain the governor till Supreme Court decides otherwise because the law allows me to appeal and we will do that to reclaim our mandate,” Sule said.

The governor called on his supporters to remain calm and not take laws into their hands by engaging in street protests.

He cautioned the youths and supporters of APC against responding to the opposition, especially on social media.

The David Ombugadu Campaign Organization has advised Governor Sule to shelve any idea of appealing against the majority judgment.

In a statement issued by Mr. Mike Omeri,  director, Media and Publicity of the organization, it said the electoral mandate handed over to  Ombugadu by the people of the state was beyond reproach.

“We recognize the right of Alhaji Abdullahi Sule to appeal this judgment, but we urge him to perish the thought as the electoral mandate handed over to Dr. Ombugadu by the people of Nasarawa State is beyond reproach.

“We extend a hand of friendship to all our political opponents to join us and recover Nasarawa State from the brink in order to discover a pathway for peace, security and sustainable development of the state,” he said.

The election petition tribunal in Lafia, had nullified the victory of Abdullahi Sule of the All Progressives Congress, as governor of Nasarawa, and declared  Ombugadu, candidate of the PDP, as winner of the poll.

During the ruling on Monday, two of the justices had said that Ombugadu won the election, while one judge dissented.

In the statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, Omeri hailed the tribunal for its diligent and impartial consideration of the evidence presented, leading to the historic and landmark decision.

“The ruling of the tribunal highlights the tenacity of the resolve of a broad spectrum of the people of Nasarawa State to seek and secure justice from the pretenders who usurped our electoral mandate and appropriated it to themselves.

“What the people of Nasarawa State have demonstrated will further strengthen our democracy and the importance of upholding the principles of justice and accountability in our electoral process,” he said.

Omeri also noted that the Ombugadu’s unwavering commitment to serving the people of Nasarawa State had been vindicated.

He added that throughout the pursuit to recover his stolen mandate, Ombugadu had remained steadfast in his belief that justice would prevail.

“Today, we celebrate not only a legal victory but also a triumph for the democratic aspirations of the people of Nasarawa State.

“We wish to express our profound appreciation to the teeming supporters and well-wishers of Dr. David Ombugadu who stood by him with unwavering loyalty and determination.

“Your faith in the democratic process and your commitment to our course have been the driving force behind this victory.

“We also recognise the tireless efforts of our legal team, whose dedication and expertise were instrumental in presenting our case before the tribunal.

“Their meticulous preparation and passionate advocacy have been pivotal in achieving this outcome,” he said.

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