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Tribunal throws out APDA’s petition against Zamfara governor

Legal moves by the Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance (APDA), to sack Governor Bello Mohammed Matawelle of Zamfara State failed on Monday at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja where its petition was dismissed for lacking in merit.

In a petition marked EPT/ZM/GOV/2019, Muhammed Sani Takori of the APDA had urged the tribunal to remove Governor Matawelle of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the ground that he did not win in two-thirds majority votes of the Local Government Areas of the state.

Also listed as respondents are the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Delivering judgement on the petition, the Tribunal chaired by Hon. Justice Binta Fatima Zubair relied on the Supreme Court pronouncement of May 24, 2019, that votes cast for candidates who ought not to have participated in an election are wasted votes cannot be used in determining outcome of an election.

Justice Zubairu held that by implication, the votes cast for Governor Matawalle and his party, the PDP, are the lawful votes as far as the March 9, governorship election in Zamfara state is concerned.

The Tribunal disagreed with the petitioner that Governor Matawalle did not win votes in two-third of the local government areas of Zamfara state.

Earlier, the tribunal had dismissed Takori’s preliminary objection that the PDP did not conduct any primaries and that Mutawalle was not duly sponsored by his party, and therefore was not qualified to contest for the Governorship election in the first place.

In dismissing the petitioner’s objection, Justice Zubairu noted that the issue of nomination and sponsorship of a candidate is the sole responsibility of the party and also a pre-election matter of which the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain.

It would be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Muktar Idris of All Progressives Congress as winner of Zamfara governorship election held on March 9, 2019.

Announcing the result, the Returning Officer, Prof. Kabir Bala, said, Muktar secured 534,541 votes out of the 810,782 votes cast across the 14 local government areas of the state.

INEC said that Bello Matawalle of Peoples Democratic Party scored 189,452 to emerge second; while Senator Saidu Dansadau of National Rescue Movement scored 15,177 votes; and Sani Abdullahi of All Progressives Grand Alliance polled 3,865 votes.

INEC said a total of 1,717,128 voters were registered in Zamfara, of which 823,294 were accredited during the election.