Niger: Tribunal reserves judgment in suit challenging Gov. Abubakar Bello’s election

Abubakar Bello

The election petition tribunal in Niger State on Tuesday reserved judgment in the petition filed by Umar Nasko of the PDP, challenging the return of Governor Abubakar Bello as winner of the March governorship election in the state.
NAN reports that Nasko, the PDP candidate in the March governorship election in the state, had dragged the APC candidate, Bello and his deputy Ahmed Ketso, before the tribunal.
Nasko alleged that Bello and Ketso presented forged academic and birth certificates to INEC.
The tribunal adjourned after all parties adopted their final written addresses.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice John Igboji, said that a date for judgment in the matter would be communicated by the secretariat to all parties in the matter.
Counsel to Bello, Ojonimi Apeh, prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition based on the evidence before it.
He said: “Exhibits D1 and D2 has laid to rest the question of whether or not the respondents submitted forged documents.
“By the totality of the evidence in this case, we urge the tribunal to dismiss this petition.”
On his part, counsel to the APC, J.J Usman prayed the court to discountenance the petitioner’s final address on grounds that it exceeded 40 pages in violation of the 2011 court practice direction.
Usman accused the petitioners of trying to reopen a case they lost at the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal.
He added: “The tribunal and the Federal High Court have concurrent jurisdiction.
“The tribunal therefore cannot sit as appellate court on decision of the Federal High Court and Court Appeal.”
In his own submission, counsel to INEC, Wole Akinjide, SAN, said case of forgery cannot be resolved without evidence from the institution whose certificate was allegedly forged.
Akinjide cited authorities to back his argument saying the fact that Bello’s certificate was carrying 1993 while he graduated in 1991 did not mean he forged it.
He further explained that certificates could be issued years after one had graduated.
In his response, counsel to the petitioners, Mohammed Ndayako, asked the tribunal to grant their prayers as the documents before it spoke for themselves.