By Tom Garba
Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, set aside the judgment of the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Yola, Adamawa State, which had affirmed Mohammed Salihu as duly nominated by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to contest for the last House of Representatives election.
Salihu contested for the Girei/Yola South/Yola North federal constituency election and won.
The lower court had dismissed the petition filed by Abubakar Baba Zango and the All Progressives Congress (APC) which contended that the PDP lawmaker was at the time of the National Assembly elections in February 25, not qualified to run because he allegedly presented a forged primary school certificate and birth certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Abubakar’s legal team had prayed the tribunal to nullify the PDP candidate’s election on that ground as well as order INEC to issue him a certificate of return having emerged second runner up in the said election.
But during its judgment at the time, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Aloysius Okuma, dismissed Abubakar’s petition saying he failed to provide credible evidence to prove his certificate forgery allegations especially in the area of name variation.
Dissatisfied with the rulling, Abubakar’s lawyer, F.K. Idepefo, approached the Appeal Court to set aside the judgment and declare his client the House of Representatives member for the constituency in dispute.
Idepefo contended in his processes that the “the justices of the election tribunal completely misconconceived the case of the appellants in resolving that Salih, Salisu or Salihu is a misnomer or a variant of the name Salihu, as that was not the case of the appellants, rather, the case of the appellants is that certificates presented to INEC were forged.”
At its judgment on Wednesday, the appellate court allowed the appeal entered by Abubakar against Salihu, agreeing that the certificates of the PDP candidate were forged.
“Judgment of the lower Tribunal is hereby set aside,” the Court of Appeal held while granting all the reliefs sought by the appellants.