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Tribunal expunges Kebbi SSG’s evidence, declares Hon.Yusuf Tilli’s Election Valid

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By Abdullahi Faruk Birnin Kebbi

 

Kebbi state national and state houses of assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital has expunged evidence of Yakubu Bala Tafida, SSG to
Kebbi State government as subpoenaed witness to petitioners having found his evidence and the documents he produced from his office to the tribunal in respect to the dismissal of Honourable Yusuf Abubakar Tilli, from the state service who was allegedly dismissal from State service some years back for fraudulent act and he was recently elected into the office of state house of assembly seat representing Bunza constituency.

The tribunal stated this while delivering its judgement in a petition with marked No EPT/KB/SHA/4/2023 filed by Shehu Zayyanu Bunza of All Progress Congress (APC) Challenging the validity victory of Honourable Yusuf Abubakar Tilli of Peoples Democratic party (PDP), Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and his party PDP before the said tribunal on three gounds.

Tribunal says, the petition was predicted on three grounds and formulated three issues for determination, Election malpractices, disqualification of the second respondant Hon.Yusuf Abubakar Tilli that he was not qualified to contest for the office of state assembly member of Bunza constituency, he was also not duly elected by the majority votes cast in Bunza constituency election as aver by petitioners in their petition.

Adding that during trial petitioners called Eleven witnesses in proving their petition, Yakubu Bala Tafida who introduced himself as Secretary to the Kebbi state government (SSG) was a subpoenaed witness as pw-11, where first, second and third respondants counsels objected the subpoenaed witness to testify and tender document before this tribunal.

However Counsels futher submitted that tribunal should not granting the subpeaned witness to testify and tender same document having closed pleadings and petitioners ought to have filed his statement on Oath to accompanied the said petition.

So having failed to do so, now it will amount to an ambush to the respondants and more so it also amount to amendment of the said petition if not bringing new issue. Again in all the paragraphs of their petition no paragraph or paragraphs show clearly that petitioners have already pleaded on the issue of tendering or proving allegation of his dismissal from state service on the act of fraudulent that tribunal can act upon and disqualified second respondant, respondants counsels submitted.

The panel Tribunal chairman Honourable Justice Magret Opara in her judgement ruled in favor of the respondants against the petitioners, where it says” having found that PW-11 a subpoenaed witness, Yakubu Bala Tafida SSG to Kebbi state government evidence is hereby expunged having agreed and holds the arguments canvassed by first and second respondant counsels, Barrister Ahmad Bello Mahmud and Barrister Abdulrahaman Madaki that the position of the law is that witness statement on Oath in an election matter most be accompanied with petition”, she said.

On the issue validity victory of the second respondant Hon. Yusuf Abubakar Tilli, petitioners witnesses has failed woefully to identify their respective polling units forms EC8A&B election results or linked them in their testimonies. However she further stated that ” in their evidence before the tribunal and the answers elicited during cross examination they maintained that election was conducted peaceful and BVAS machine was also used in their respective polling units.

Equally, Ten of the witnesses called by the petitioners non of the witnesses or document proved over-voting, allegation of inserting on accurate scored figures in election results sheet and non signing of election results, as aver by the petitioners. She added that the documents tendered through the bar the petitioners owns the onus to Link the said document to the allegations of election irregularities etc. But petitioners the witnesses maintained that election took place peaceful in their respective polling units and wards of Bunza constituency where petitioners are contending that there was over voting and other forms of election malpractices etc.

Tribunal, found that” in the depositions of PW-1 to PW-10 said we shall identify our polling unit election result forms, for the purpose of emphasis tribunal put the word shall in quote” we shall”. Tribunal have not seeing or found anywhere petitioners witnesses identified form EC’s tendered by the petitioners during examination in chief.

” We categorized and summarized petitioners witnesses called before tribunal that only 4 polling unit agents called to testified in respect of over voting and other irregularities during the conduct of election of Bunza constituency, 4 wards collation agents also testified, while 2 Local government collation agents testified too, where we found that Ward and local government agents stated catigorically that they have not witnessed what happened at polling units and those at the polling units confirmed to the tribunal that election took place peaceful and BVAS machine was used for accreditation of voters”. Tribunal explained while reading judgement.

The onus of burden of poof lies on the petitioners, but in this petition tribunal found that petitioners have failed to proof over voting, non use of BVAS machine, non signing of election results sheets and the issue of disqualification alleged in the petition, but having found that petitioners didn’t discharge it onus of proof to all the allegations and non of the witnesses identified his polling unit results sheet or linked the documents to any of the alleged irregularities.

Hon. Justice Magret Opara said” tribunal is hereby affirming the election of Hon.Yusuf Abubakar Tilli as duly elected member state house of assembly representing Bunza constituency and which was conducted on the 18th March 2023 by the first respondant (INEC) and the petition is hereby dismissed for failure to discharge the onus burden as petitioners before the tribunal.

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