Tribunal Nullifies Kaduna Lawmaker’s Election Over Omission

A National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kaduna, on Wednesday, nullified the election of Mrs Comfort Amwe of the Peoples’ Democratic Party as member representing Sanga Constituency in the Kaduna State House of Assembly.

The tribunal equally ordered the Independent
National Electoral Commission to issue
Certificate of Return to Mr Haliru Dangana of
the All Progressives Congress who had the
second highest vote in the April 11, election.

The case was instituted by Dangana, who
urged the tribunal to declare the votes
secured by Amwe unlawful, null and void
and return him as the winner of the election.

Dangana hinged his argument on the
grounds that Amwe was not a candidate in
the election, as she was neither sponsored
by the PDP nor had her name published in
the list of contestants in the said election by
INEC.

Joined in the petition were the PDP and
INEC as second and third respondents.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that
Amwe’s name was not published by INEC in
deference to an exparte order issued by
Justice M.A Bello, of Kaduna State High
Court on Dec. 19, 2014, restraining PDP and
INEC from fielding her as a candidate in the
election, pending determination of the case.

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The court order was issued as a result of the
fall out of the PDP primaries.

Counsel for the petitioner, Mr. Fred Odigi,
asked the tribunal to determine whether
Amwe was eligible to contest based on the
court order; whether she was a lawful
candidate in the election, and if votes
allocated to her were lawful.

In his submissions, counsel for the first
respondent, Mr Gideon Didam argued that
Awme was a lawful candidate in the election
and was returned winner by INEC.

Didam argued that the court order which the petitioner hinged his argument on expired seven days after it was issued.

On his part, counsel for the PDP, Mr. K. A. Hamma, argued that the first respondents was its lawful candidate in the election which she participated and won.

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According to him, Amwe was not liable to the erroneous omission of her name in the list of candidates for the election.

INEC admitted omitting the first respondents
name from its published register of candidates and blamed it on administrative error.

In his judgment, Chairman of the three-man
panel, Justice Abdulhamid Abdullahi, upheld
the petitioners ground that the first
respondent was not a lawful candidate in the
election.

According to him, since the name of the first
respondent was not published in the list of
candidates by INEC, it meant that she was
not among the contestants.

“There was no evidence before the tribunal
indicating that the court order was vacated
or set aside by any court of law, and ‘court
order’ did not represent a name of
candidate.

“It is our conclusion therefore, that as of the
time of the election, the first and second
respondents were not party to the election.

“As such, the votes allocated to the first
respondent by the third respondents were
unlawful and invalid, therefore, making the
petitioner, who scored the second highest
lawful votes the winner of the election.”

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Abdulahi, therefore, directed INEC to issue
Dangana a certificate of return as the winner
of the April 11, election, with 18,880 votes
over Labour Party’s candidate.

In his reaction, Odogi, counsel for the
petitioner, described the judgment as a
restoration of hope in the judiciary and
thanked the tribunal for upholding justice.

On his part, Dangana thanked the tribunal for
restoring his mandate.

Meanwhile, Didam said his client will appeal
against the ruling.

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