Tribunal nullifies Taraba Speaker’s election
Orders fresh elections in eight polling units
THE Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State, yesterday nullified the election of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Abel Peter Diah.
The tribunal, not convinced of the evidence made available to the tribunal by counsel to first, second and third respondents, ordered a fresh election to be conducted in eight out of the forty-eight polling units of the constituency.
The said election of the Speaker representing Mbamnga Constituency in the state House of Assembly, according to the three-man panel, was characterised by irregularities, which include non-accreditation of eligible voters.
Holding tenaciously to the evidence presented by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the election, Emmanuel J. Bongo, the panel unanimously agreed that elections in eight of the polling units were done in non-compliance with the Electoral Law of 2010.
The tribunal’s three-hour judgment, which was read by Justice A.M. Ali, also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to, as a matter of urgency, withdraw the Certificate of Return earlier issued to the Speaker pending when fresh elections are conducted in the polling units and a winner emerges.
It directed INEC to re-conduct elections in the eight polling units within the next 90 days and the results should be added to the already declared results of the candidates which would lead to the emergence of a “duly-elected representative of the constituency.”
Answering questions from newsmen, the lead counsel to the petitioner, Festus Kayode Idepefo, said the activities of the panel in the state have further demonstrated the need for the common men and the oppressed to always take refuge in the judiciary.
Idepefo, who has won all the various petitions filed by his clients from the APC since the commencement of the tribunal, said he was optimistic of triumphing at the Appeal Court as well.
Though the Speaker could not be reached, but his lead counsel, L. J. Ezekiel, said the next line of action would be known after consulting with their client.
On his own, the APC Chairman in the state, Alhaji Hassan Jika Ardo, said: “When we told the world that APC won the entire elections in the state but was “robbed by PDP, some few persons thought we were lying, but thank God we have been vindicated by the tribunal.”