Abuja — The Court of Appeal in Abuja has declared as inconclusive the March 18 governorship election that produced the Zamfara State governor, Dauda Lawal.
A three-man panel of the appellate court, in a unanimous judgement, declared the election inconclusive after voiding results from two local government areas of the state.
The panel subsequently set aside the return of Lawal as governor and ordered fresh elections in the three local government areas of Maradun, birnin-magaji and Bukyun.
The justices held that it was wrong for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt results from the IReV, because “IReV is not part of the collation system” but for viewing purposes.
Justice Sybil Gbagi, who noted that issues 1,2 and 3 were resolved in favour of the respondents, however, held that the appeal succeeded because issues 3,5,6, and 7, which formed the kernel of the appeal, were in favour of the appellant.
The judge subsequently allowed the appeal, declared the March 18 governorship election that produced Lawal inconclusive, and ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in the affected polling units.
INEC’s Returning Officer in Zamfara State, Kassimu Shehu, had in March declared Lawal winner of the governorship poll, saying he polled 377,726 votes to defeat Matawalle, then incumbent and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored a total of 311,976 votes.
Dissatisfied, Matawalle, who is now Minister of State for Defence, approached the Zamfara State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the poll.
He cited non-compliance with the electoral laws, irregularities and corrupt practices as grounds for the nullification of Lawal’s election. Specifically, the petitioner alleged that INEC subverted his victory at the polls by failing to include the results of some ward areas.
However, the tribunal, in a judgement delivered in September, held that the petition was devoid of merit and subsequently dismissed it with a cost of N500,000 against the petitioners.
Not satisfied, Matawalle approached the appellate court, which on Thursday, in its judgement, disagreed with the lower court and subsequently voided the judgement dismissing Matawalle’s petition.
The court held that the appellant provided credible evidence showing that INEC failed to comply with the law when it rejected collated results from polling units and used results from the IReV to declare Lawal winner of the March 18 governorship poll.
Having declared as illegal, unlawful and void the results from the IReV, the appellate court subsequently ordered a fresh election in the affected polling units in three local council areas.