Tribunal sustains the election of Fintiri

Tribunal sustains the election of Fintiri
The election of Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) as the legitimately elected governor of the state was upheld yesterday by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which is based in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State.

Judge Theodora Obi Uloho, the tribunal's chairperson, dismissed the application filed by Aishatu Binnani, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for governor, citing a lack of legal basis to overturn Fintiri's victory during the six hours and forty-eight minute ruling.

In her 176-page ruling, Uloho observed that the petitioner had not submitted supporting documentation for her claim that she had overvoted.

The judge stated that in order to establish the charge of excessive voting, the petitioner must present the Voters Register of the impacted areas to the tribunal in order to determine the total number of registered voters, citing Section 51 of the Electoral Act and the Supreme Court ruling in Adeleke v. Oyetola.

"To demonstrate the number of voters accredited for the election in each of the impacted polling places, wards, and local government, the petitioner must present the Bi-modal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) equipment. The tribunal decided that the petitioner needed to present Form C8 as proof that the election was held in those wards, polling places, and local government.

The petitioner's failure to produce those materials, the judge noted, rendered the case essentially a didactic exercise.

Regarding the claim of non-compliance, the tribunal noted that the petitioner had woefully neglected to identify the polling places, wards, and local governments where non-compliance occurred during the March 15 and April 18, 2023, elections.

According to Justice Uloho, the petitioner's case was unsuccessful because she disregarded Evident Act 2011 sub-sections 104, 87, 68, 83, and 93.

When Hudu Yunusa Ari, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) at the time, declared Binnani the winner of the governorship race while the votes were still being tallied, Justice Uloho called Ari's action irresponsible and stated that he had infringed upon the duties of the Returning Officer.

Judge Uloho asserted that only the Returning Officer possesses the authority to compile results, declare the election's victor, and then pass over the result sheet to the REC for storage, citing sections 25,152 and 64 sub-section 4 of the Electoral Act.

"While results were still being tallied, the Adamawa REC illegally declared APC candidate for governor, Binnani, the victor of the election. The functions of the Returning Officer are not and cannot be fulfilled by REC. Hudu Yunusa Ari's declaration is invalid. She said, "Hudu's announcement was based on nothing and is unenforceable."

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