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Nasarawa State Governor, H.E Abdullahi Sule.

Cecilia Onah, Lafia

The ongoing Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Nasarawa State, on Friday continued the hearing of Governor Abdullahi Sule’s defense over the alleged manipulation of the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the state.

The governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Dr. David Ombugadu, had dragged Governor Sule to Court after the Independent National Electoral Commission declared him winner of the election.

At the continuation of the Governor’s defense at the tribunal sitting in Lafia, the Lead Counsel to Ombugadu, Dr. Samuel Okutepa (SAN), objected to the documents earlier tendered by the Counsel to the second respondent and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Abdullahi Sule.

Okutepa, however, told the tribunal that he would mention the reason for the objection of the documents in his written address.

The Lead Counsel to the second respondent, Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), had tendered certified copies of some documents to the tribunal which include forms EC8Bs for Shege 1 ward of Toto Local Government Area and forms EC8BS of Gidan Ausa 2 of Obi Local Government Area respectively, to defend his case.

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The Governor’s attorney also presented seven witnesses from Keffi and Nasarawa LGAs to prove that his client won the March 18, 2023 election in their respective areas.

One of the witnesses, Muktar Ibrahim, who is a member of the APC from Iya ward 2 in Keffi LGA of the state, testified that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines were used for the authentication of voters and for the upload of results. He, however, claimed that votes belonging to the APC were reduced while that of the PDP were increased during the poll.

Another witness who testified at the tribunal, Habibu Sarki, the APC Collation Agent for Ara ward 2 in Nasarawa LGA of the state, agreed that elections were conducted peacefully and successfully in the ward.

He, however, alleged that the result from Aleyika polling unit 010 was manipulated by the PDP, adding that the PDP votes were increased while that of the APC were reduced.

During his cross examination, the PDP Lead Counsel, Okutepa, presented a certified copy of the affected polling unit result from the IREV portal, which indicated that the APC votes were not reduced as claimed by the witness.

Other witnesses who testified from Nasarawa LGA include Ibrahim Umar of Kuto Aisa electoral ward, Abdulkadir Adamu of Nasarawa North electoral ward, Iduwa Sabo of Agum electoral ward, Ibrahim Yahaya of Usege-Mbeki, Odu electoral ward and Kaika Egwu of Udeni Gida ward.

They all claimed that the election was held peacefully in their respective areas, and that the Governor won the election as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

However, during their cross examinations, Counsel to the petitioner, Okutepa (SAN), established that the results in the INEC IREV portal were different from what the witnesses identified to be the election results from their respective areas.

After listening to the testimonies of the witnesses for the day, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ezekiel Ajayi, adjourned the matter to August 26, 2023 for continuation of defence.