Zamfara tribunal dismisses Matawalle’s petition against Gov. Lawal

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The Zamfara governorship election petition tribunal on Monday dismissed the petition filed against the state governor, Dauda Lawal, by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Bello Matawalle.

The tribunal chairperson, Justice Cordelia Ogadi, who led two other members, dismissed the petition for lack of merit and inability of the petitioners to prove their case as required by law.

The tribunal held that the petitioners also failed to prove allegations of irregularities during the polls and awarded N500,000 cost to be paid by the petitioners to each of the three respondents.

The respondents to the petition are Mr Lawal, his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Mr Matawalle, the immediate past governor of the state and  APC, had filed the petition against the respondents, contending that the election was marred with irregularities and Mr Lawal did not score the majority of lawful votes.

Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Ogadi held that the petitioners could not prove allegations of overvoting and other malpractices, stressing that the burden of proof was solely on the petitioners.

She said the petitioners were also unable to prove allegations of substantial non-compliance of the poll to the provisions of the electoral act that would affect the overall outcome of its result.

According to her, all the arguments were considered, and the case was decided based on the constitutional requirements and the electoral laws.

She, therefore, dismissed the petition for lack of merit and awarded the cost against the petitioners.

The petitioners had alleged that the March 18 governorship election was flawed with irregularities and sought the tribunal’s order nullifying the return of Mr Lawal as the winner of the poll by INEC.

They also sought the order of the court declaring Mr Matawalle the winner of the said election on the ground that he scored the majority of the lawful votes.

The petitioners prayed the tribunal to mandate INEC to issue Mr Matawalle a certificate of return and further orders necessary.