In a groundbreaking decision, the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Lafia, has invalidated the results of the March 18th gubernatorial poll, effectively dethroning the incumbent Governor, Abdullahi Audu Sule of the APC, and declaring David Emmanuel Ombugadu of the PDP as the rightful winner.
The tribunal’s judgment comes after a contentious legal battle that saw the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) declaration of Sule as the winner, citing computational errors and discrepancies in the results.
Initially, INEC declared Governor Sule as the victor with 347,209 votes, defeating Dr. Ombugadu, who garnered 283,016 votes. However, the PDP alleged that State INEC officials had engaged in irregularities, pointing to disparities between the announced results and INEC Certifies True Copies (CTCs), Polling Unit results, and IREV portal results.
The tribunal, led by Justice Ezekiel Oyeyemi Ajayi, conducted a thorough examination of the evidence and found merit in the PDP’s claims. They ruled that the BVAS Machine/ Screenshots presented by the PDP were relevant and admissible, dismissing the objections raised by the APC.
Justice Ajayi stated, “The tribunal deducted the votes of Chiroma after comparing the entries in polling unit results with the ward result. Additionally, the incorrect votes attributed to Gayam were deducted.”
The tribunal also addressed other discrepancies and upheld the contentions of the petitioners. By a majority decision of 2 to 1, the tribunal ultimately affirmed David Emmanuel Ombugadu as the duly elected Governor, as he had received the majority of lawful votes cast.
This landmark ruling not only alters the political landscape in Nasarawa State but also underscores the significance of fair and transparent elections in Nigeria’s democracy. The tribunal’s decision serves as a reminder of the judiciary’s vital role in upholding the integrity of the electoral process.