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Published On: Mon, Nov 18th, 2019

Sokoto APC appeal against tribunal judgment and matters arising

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Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

The Sokoto state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has expressed displeasure over the verdict of the Sate Election Petition Tribunal that upheld Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal’s election. Vivian Okejeme, in this report, looks at the grounds of appeal against the judgment currently before the Court of Appeal.

“APC wishes to categorically reject it entirely; we believe that the judgement has turned justice on its head. Our lawyers are studying details of the judgement with a view to file appeal at the appropriate court of law.”
These were the exert words registering its displeasure by the Sokoto State chapter of All Progressive Congress(APC) over the decision of the State Election Petition Tribunal in favor of the Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
The governorship tribunal, led by Justice Abass Abdullahi, had on October 2, 2019, dismissed APC’s petition and declared the incumbent Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the PDP the winner of the disputed election. The tribunal said the petition filed by Sokoto APC lacked merit.
Consequent to the dismissal of the petition brought by the candidate of the APC, Ahmed Aliya Sokoto by the state election tribunal, little over a month ago, the party and its candidate has approached the Appeal Court to set aside the decision of the lower court.
In the notice of appeal filed at the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, through his counsel, Dr. Alex Iziyon SAN to challenging the tribunal verdict, the appellant, raised 31 grounds of appeal, which the appellate court should consider and rule in their favor, thereby affirming the wish of the electorates
However, the supporters of the APC candidate in the election are confident that the Appeal Court will decide the case in their favour and sack the PDP’s Tambuwal and either declare APC’s Sokoto as winner of the election or other a fresh election to be conducted by the INEC in the interest of justice for Sokoto people and transparency.
Some of the grounds of appeal include the following: The Learned Judges of the Trial Tribunal erred in Law when they held, “It is observed that while some of the said certifications bear the dates of 20/3/2019; 28/3/2019; 29/3/2019; 1/4/2019; 4/4/2019; 1/6/2019; and 24/6/2019, some other exhibits like P14 and P15 have no certification on them.
However, Exhibits P7 and P12(a) have certification but bear no dates of certification. Instructively none of the exhibits that bear the above mentioned certification dates tallies with the date on which exhibits P17 and P18 were issued.
They maintained that there is no evidence before the Tribunal, or on the face of exhibits P17 and P18 that links either of them to any of the afore-listed certified documents. The Tribunal cannot and is not equally obliged to go on the voyage with a view to discover which of the certifications exhibits P17 and P18 cover.”
According to the appellant, The particulars of error in ground one of the appeal says Exhibit P17 which is the INEC Receipt which state clearly on the face of it “payment for Certified True Copy of documents for the 2019 Governorship Election for 9/3/19 and 23/3/19” and it was duly issued to the 2nd Appellant and was dated 17/4/2019.
Exhibit P18 which is the Receipt of INEC and also stated on it is “payment for Certified True Copy of Register of voters of the 23 local government areas in Sokoto State” was issued to the 2nd Appellant dated 20/5/2019 and was in respect of certification of the Voters register.
They also posited that all certified documents (Exhibits P1 – P13) were all duly certified by Muktar Ibrahim, AG Administrative Secretary or Yunusa Jika Kura, the Administrative Secretary of the 1st Respondent, with the respective dates of the certification and 1st Respondent Stamp on each of the said documents.
The payment of NGN 1,200,000 which was the prescribed fee as issued by the 1st Respondent being “payment for Certified True Copy of documents for the 2019 Governorship Election for 9/3/19 and 23/3/19”complied with Section 104(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011. The wrongful rejection of the exhibits led to a miscarriage of justice.
The appellant’s counsel, Dr. Izinyon, in the ground two of the appeal said the Learned Judges of the Trial Tribunal erred in Law when they held thus: “It is therefore without gainsaying that there is no evident (sic) of payment for certification of exhibits PI – P14 before the Tribunal, as the purported payment receipts have not demonstrated which is certification they cover.
For the exhibits that have been found to have no date of certification, there is no doubt that they are not properly certified as required by law. Similarly, exhibit P18 which was issued to cover specifically payments for certification of Voters Registers, cannot be said to relate to exhibits P13 series (i.e the Voters Registers tendered). This is because 20th May, 2019 the date of exhibit P18, post – dated 8th May, 2019 the date exhibits P13 series were allegedly certified.”
He argued in the particulars of error in ground two that all that is required to evidence or establish proper certification of public documents is the name and the official title of the public officer that certified such a public document and nothing more under law by virtue of Section 104(2) of the Evidence Act.
Moreover, the appellant had in another ground of appeal raised, he said the tribunal erred in law by failing to make pronouncement on the issue raised by the Petitioners that the written deposition of RW5 was signed in his office and not before the Commissioner for Oaths as required by law.
He said court of law or tribunal is bound strictly to make pronouncement on all issues raised before it by parties. He also added that a witness in an election petition must sign his/her written deposition before the Commissioner for Oaths not in his/her office or anywhere else as stated in the case of BUHARI V. INEC (2009) ALL FWLR (PT. 459) 419 and ALIYU V. BULAKI (2019) LPELR – 46513(CA).
According to him, all the major Exhibits were tendered by the 2nd Respondent (Governor Tambuwal) which were relied by the Tribunal were tendered by RW5. Rejection of RW5 deposition which includes the said document tendered by him which the trial Tribunal in its evaluation of evidence held to be original and from proper custody.
Other grounds of appeal and particulars of error argued by the appellant include: ‘’The Tribunal erred in law in holding that Exhibit R17 (Form EC40G) was properly identified by RW4 when same was not part of her deposition.”
‘’RW4 who purportedly identified Exhibit R17 was not the maker of the document and was therefore not in a position to identify same or give any evidence on it. The law is well settled that it is only the maker of a document that can give evidence on same. Any document not tendered or given evidence upon by the maker thereof automatically lacks probative/evidential value. The findings of the learned Tribunal in the Exhibits where indirectly calling the documents as product of fraud/forgery. The learned Tribunal in rejecting the said Exhibit held that they will prefer the original tendered by the Respondent showing clearly that the Tribunal has motive of fraud/forgery to the said documents. None of the Respondents including the 1st Respondent who issued the said Exhibit raised the issue of fraud/forgery or denial of the genuineness of any’’.
‘’The learned Judges of the Tribunal erred in law when they held: However, with respect to exhibits R33 and R34, the Political Party Agents List being contested, the objection cannot be sustained, for the exhibits are relevant and pleaded. More so, the notice to produce was not served on the 2nd respondent but on the 1st respondent. The 1st respondent did not call any witness and the subpoena served on RW7 was not at the instance of the 1st respondent. The objection is therefore overruled.”
‘’Exhibits P15 and P16 were the copies of the Notice to Produce served on the 1st Respondent to produce the list of party agents submitted to the 1st Respondent by the Appellants. They need no certification as they are record of the Tribunal’’. RW7 admitted under cross-examination that she came to give evidence on behalf of the 1st Respondent (INEC) as well and confirmed that she was aware that a Notice to Produce was served on the 1st Respondent (INEC).
Appellants are entitled to tender secondary evidence as the 1st Respondent failed to produce the said documents. It was not necessary to serve Notice to produce on the 2nd Respondent’’.
‘’The learned Judges of the Tribunal erred in law when they held: “Furthermore, it is rightly stated by the senior counsel for the 2ndrespondent that even the Jurat on the depositions of the witnesses suggested that there were other statements from which the English version metamorphosed.
Similarly, at page 34, paragraph 5.42, lines 11-13 of the petitioners written address, the learned senior counsel’s submission that there no requirement for the witnesses to know the person who translated the witnesses’ statements on oath, is equally a further suggestion of the existence of another statement in Hausa language from which the English translation emerged.
Accordingly, the submission of the learned senior counsel that the witnesses were making their statements in Hausa language and the translator was translating into English language can only be supported by calling such interpreter (Umar Bala) to testify before the Tribunal in that respect. But there was no such evidence before the Tribunal and the evidence cannot come from the senior counsel’s address but from the alleged interpreter.”
‘’The Trial Tribunal speculated when it held that there was “a suggestion of the existence of another statement in Hausa language from which the English translation emerged” when there was no such evidence before it. None of the witnesses of the Appellants stated that two statements were made in writing, one in Hausa and another in English. The provisions of Section 119(2) (a)-(c) of the Evidence Act 2011 is clear and does not require that the Jurat should testify where the Jurat has been signed by the interpreter.”
The Learned Judges of the Tribunal erred in Law when they held: “Furthermore, although the senior counsel disclosed on the necessity for the depositions of the petitioners’ witnesses to contain the number of registered voters as a requirement of proving over voting, it is instructive to note that none of the petitioners’ witnesses deposed to these facts. The witnesses are PW1, PW2, PW3, PW5 and PW6. Also,even the Voters Registers tendered namely – P13(n), P13(I) and P13(j) demonstrated through PW7, PW8 and PW11 respectively which we earlier held to be inadmissible; they were demonstrated not for over-voting, but for non-voting.”
‘’The Appellants have shown in the written address as demonstrated in the deposition of PW1, PW2, PW8, PW6 are voter registers in Exhibit
P13(n), PW13(l), P13(j) and how over voting occurred as provided under the relevant Electoral Act, Regulation and Guidelines. It was wrong for the trial tribunal to equate same with non-voting only.
He alleged that the Tribunal erred in law when they held: “The petitioners’ attempt to prove over voting through PW1, PW2, PW3, PW5 and PW6 at the following polling units – Labe-Labe primary school polling unit 005; Shiyar Galadima Mudalia primary school polling unit; Garke Kabo Yarsharu Polling Unit; Randa-Randa Polling Unit; and Shiyar Noma polling unit 004 has not been successful. It is to be noted as earlier held that all these witnesses have no valid and credible witness’ statements on oath before the Tribunal and were found to be incompetent.”
‘’The Evidence of PW1, PW2, PW3, PW5 and PW6 were all competent and reliable. The Trial Tribunal failed to evaluate the evidence of PW1, PW2, PW3, PW5 and PW6 as they relate to what transpired at the polling units and the failure to do so has occasioned a miscarriage of justice on the appellants. The Trial Tribunal’s finding on the witness statements on oaths of PW1, PW2, PW3, PW5 and PW6 led to miscarriage of justice’’.
Concluding, he said the Trial Tribunal was wrong to have dismissed the appellant’s petition. According to Izinyon, the appellant is entitled to the reliefs sought in the petition having proved on the balance of probabilities and preponderance of evidence the petition.
He prayed for an order allowing the appeal and an order setting aside the earlier judgment of the Sokoto State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
Most of the election tribunals handling various election petitions are gradually concluding the cases with judgements being delivered one way or the other.
The appeals arising from the tribunal judgements are now moving to the different divisions of the Court of Appeal where the cases will be finally laid to rest in respect of the National and State Assemblies elections.

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