Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been mandated to issue a certificate of return to Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the duly elected Senator representing Taraba Central Senatorial District in the March 28th National Assembly elections.
This mandate came shortly after a verdict of the National Assembly election petition tribunal sitting in Jalingo the Taraba State capital yesterday where the election of Senator Bashir Marafa Abba of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was nullified.
The Union gathered that the verdict took a two and half hours from a threeman panel of Justices at the tribunal where it was held that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents failed to proof the case against them beyond reasonable doubts.
Justice I.A Yusuf who read the judgment of the tribunal held that the tribunal was convinced by the evidence before it stressing that there was swapping of the votes of Social Democratic Party (SDP) with that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the Bali local government collation officer in favour of the PDP candidate.
Justice Yusuf further held that the cancellation of the result of 16 out of 17 polling units in Kaigama ward of Bali local government of the state by the first respondent after the results were announced at the polling units by presiding officers was an afterthought and against the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The tribunal faulted the cancellation of the entire result of Kaigama ward and ordered the deduction of 2, 999 votes of SDP which were swapped with the PDP 512 votes in the ward, giving the APC candidate 66,087 against the PDP candidate 64,356 and the SDP 33,489.
“Having resolved issue number one in favour of the petitioner and the respondents failed to proof their case, it is the ruling of the tribunal that the petitioner secured the highest number of votes cast.
“Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should therefore, issue certificate of return to the petitioner as the duly elected senator for Taraba central senatorial district.” Reacting to the judgment, lead counsel to Senator Bashir Marafa Abba, Yusufu Nya Akirikwen said he will contact his client for advice on the next line of action.
– Okerafor Athanatius, Jalingo