The Yobe Legislative Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja has nullified the election of Rep. Sabo Garba (PDP-Nangere/Potiskum) for lack of educational qualification. The three-member tribunal, presided by Justice Frances Ikponmwen, gave the nullification order while delivering judgment in a petition filed by Alhaji Ali Yakubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Yakubu and his party had asked the tribunal to nullify Garba’s election on the ground that he did not possess the requisite qualification to contest the election. In the judgment, the tribunal ordered Garba to vacate his seat in the House of Representatives. It also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare the petitioner as the winner of the election and issue certificate of return to him.
The tribunal held that Garba failed to defend the allegation that he did not possess the relevant qualification to contest the election. Out of the four issues raised by the petitioners – malpractice, non compliance with electoral guidelines, forgery and lack of educational qualification – the tribunal based its judgment on the fourth issue of educational qualification.
“The issue we consider is that why should the first respondent who should possess the originals of the certificate, shy away from testifying or from producing the originals of the certificates,’’ the presiding judge held. The tribunal awarded cost of N50,000 each against the 2nd and 3rd respondents – PDP and INEC, respectively.
The petitioners had alleged that the lawmaker did not attend the schools he claimed to have attended in the INEC forms he filled. “The first respondent as at the date of the election conducted on March 28, 2015, was not qualified to contest the election into the House of Representatives representing Nangere/Potiskum Federal Constituency.
“His affidavit in support of Personal Particulars INEC Form CF 001 states that he attended Teachers College, Bama, Borno State, from 1979 to 1984, but there is no record from the school and National Teachers Institute, of having attended such institution. “The first respondent claimed in the affidavit that he attended Central Primary School Potiskum, from 1974 to 1979, but there is no record from the school of having attended such institution,” the petitioners had submitted.
The petitioners tendered documents obtained from Teachers College Bama, National Teachers Institute, Kaduna, and Central Primary School, Potassium, to buttress their allegation. They had also subpoenaed officials of the three schools who had testified to the effect that the lawmaker did not attend the schools.