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Three political parties challenge Bauchi governorship polls at tribunal

Former Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed is challenged by three parties at Bauchi election tribunal
By Baba Shehu Oscu, Bauchi
Three political parties, Action Peoples Party (APP), Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and All Progressives Congress (APC) have filed separates petitions before Bauchi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal challenging the election of Senator Bala Muhammad of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in this year’s governorship election in the state.
Bala won with the highest votes of 515,113 votes and defeated his closest rivals the outgoing Governor of the state Senator Mohammed Abubakar of the APC who scored 500,325 votes.
The three parties want the tribunal to nullify the declaration of Bala by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner due to alleged noncompliance or substantial noncompliance of the electoral act 2010 as amended.
The APP said in their petition that they validly sponsored Alhaji Gumi Umaru and Sani Umaru as state governorship and deputy governorship candidates but on election day, majority of its supporters where disheartened when they realized that the electoral body unlawfully rejected their candidate.
The party said initially submitted the name of Kabiru Isiyaku as its governorship candidate and within the time frame of substitution Kabiru Isiyaku wrote a letter to INEC in his own hand writing indicating his interest not to contest the office as the result the party validly substituted his name with Gumi and INEC unlawfully excluded their candidate and asked the tribunal to nullify the entire election and order for fresh poll into the office of the Governor of Bauchi State where their candidate will be accommodated.
The PDM in their petition said the electoral body excluded their candidate and the logo of the party in the ballot papers, election materials and all other documents used in the governorship election in the state.
PDM alleged that their candidate Ahmed Iliyasu filled all the forms required by law and submitted same to the electoral body but they were unlawfully excluded by the INEC and asked the tribunal to nullify the entire election and order for fresh one within 90 days from the date the tribunal nullifies the election.
The APC said in their petition that they had examined all necessary  documents related to  the election included  but not limited to forms, result sheets, experts reports and analysis, and other documents obtained its agents and lawyers supported by INEC and discovered irregularities in the conduct of the governorship election in the state with substantial noncompliance with the provision of electoral act 2010 as amended and the electoral body guidelines for elections officials culminated in the final scores in forms EC8E which was declared in favour of Senator Bala of the PDP.
He said there was incorrect entry the scores of Bala by the electoral body was only symptomatic of the various infractions carried out by the electoral body and asked the court to declared the pronouncement of PDP candidate as the winner of the election by INEC as null and void and of no effect because the substance of non-compliance affected the conduct of the result and the outcome of the election.
The outgoing governor want the tribunal to declare him as winner of the election or as a consequence to conduct fresh election for the office of the Governor in the affected areas in Bogoro , Tafawa Balewa and Bauchi Local Government Area.
Counsel to Senator Bala, Barrister Mukhtar Abubakar Usman said they were served with the three petitions and they are equal to the task and will respond to the three petitioners and expressed confidence that they have adequate answers that will satisfy the tribunal.
The tribunal will fix a date for hearing after counsels to both sides completed all the necessary things required.

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