The Zamfara Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its gubernatorial candidate, Bello Matawalle, ruling in favor of the incumbent state governor, Dauda Lawal.
Tribunal Chairperson Justice Cordelia Ogadi, along with two other members, cited a lack of merit in the petition and the petitioner’s inability to substantiate their claims, as required by law.
The tribunal specifically noted that the petitioners failed to provide evidence to support their allegations of irregularities during the election. Consequently, the tribunal imposed a cost of N500,000 to be paid by each of the three petitioners to the respondents.
The respondents in this case included Governor Lawal, his party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Bello Matawalle, the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, and the APC had jointly filed the petition, alleging irregularities in the governorship election and disputing Lawal’s victory.
Justice Ogadi, in delivering the lead judgment, emphasized that the burden of proof rested solely on the petitioners. She further noted that the petitioners failed to substantiate their claims of overvoting and other electoral malpractices. Additionally, the tribunal found no substantial non-compliance with electoral laws that would have impacted the election’s outcome.
The tribunal based its decision on constitutional requirements and the provisions of electoral laws. Consequently, the petition was dismissed for lack of merit, and the cost was awarded against the petitioners.
The petitioners had alleged that the March 18 governorship election was riddled with irregularities and had requested the tribunal to nullify Governor Lawal’s victory as declared by INEC. They also sought a declaration of Matawalle as the winner of the election, claiming he had secured the majority of lawful votes. The petitioners further urged the tribunal to mandate INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Matawalle and take any other necessary actions.