Tribunal rejects petition against lawmaker

August 6, 2019
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The National Assembly and sate Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, Yobe State (sitting in Abuja) has dismissed the petition filed against Ibrahim Umar Potiskum’s election  for the Potiskum/Nagere Federal Constituency on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a unanimous decision, the tribunal’s three-man panel held that the petitioners – Sabo Garba and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – failed to prove their claims against Potiskum, who was a Commissioner in the Bukar Abba Ibrahim administration, between 2000 and 2005.

The petitioners had, in their petition marked: YB/EPT/HR/01/2019 alleged among others, that Potiskum had been convicted by a Chief Magistrates’ Court in Damaturu and Upper Area Court 1, Potiskum for election related offence and adultery.

The petitioners also claimed that Potiskum had a history of insanity and was alleged declared as a person of unsound mind, having purportedly been a patient at the Borno Psychiatric Hospital, with patient card No. 0268/05.

Read Also: Election Petition Tribunal changes sitting date

Sabo and the PDP also alleged that Potiskum provided false information in the Form CF001 he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Justice U. S. Sakwa, in the tribunal’s lead decision, upheld the contention by lawyer to Potiskum (who was listed as the first respondent), Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN), to the effect that the petitioners failed to provide credible and relevant evidence to sustain their claims.

Justice Sakwa dismissed the objection to the tribunal’s jurisdiction to hear the petition, raised by Potiskum.

The judge held that, where a challenge of a candidate’s qualification is based on information submitted to INEC, it could be treated as either a pre or post election issue, on which an election tribunal can exercise jurisdiction.

In the judgment given on July 20, 2019, Justice Sakwa held that the petitioners failed to establish their claim that Potiskum was not qualified to stand for election on grounds of alleged conviction and insanity.

The judge held that the evidence by the peititioners’ witnesses, particularly the Chief Nursing Officer in Charge of Borno State Psychiatric Hospital, Audu Buba Zarami (who testified as the petitioners’ 7th witness – PW7) were insufficient to sustain their claims.

He noted that, beside that Zarami spoke about what happened in 2005, it was impossible for an insane mind to study up to a masters’ degree level at the University of Maiduguri (which is not a special education centre or  psychiatric institution).

Justice Sakwa said, from his close observation of Potskum, while he attended court to testify, the 1st respondent (Potiskum) did not behave abnormally, but responded to questions ad conducted himself like a normal person.

The judge added that he was not convinced that an individual of unsound mind could hold the various key government positions that Potiskum held I Borno State before now.

“I have not seen or perceived any unsoundess of mind in him. The 1st respondents is therefore, in my view, not an insane person or a person of unsound mind as alleged.

“More so, the content of the Exhibit P5 (letter containing information on the medical observation carried out on Potiskum) tendered through PW7 happened as far back as 2005 after which the 1st respondent had gone back to school to obtain a masters’ degree.”

The judge also faulted the petitioners’ clam that the 1st respondent was not qualified to stand for election on the grounds that he allegedly gave false personal information in the Form CF001 he submitted to INEC.

“On the whole, the petitioners did not prove their case as can be seen from the aforementioned issues facts and law thereto.

“The standard required bylaw to be entitled to the reliefs. sought in paragraph 26(a) – (f) have not been met, as the evidence led does not support the grant of the reliefs sought.

“We find no merit in this petition and accordingly hold as follows: Petition dismissed; no order as to cost,” Justice Sakwa said.

Justices T.S. Oji (Chairman of the panel) and E. O. Osagede (member) agreed with the lead judgment.

Meanwhile the petitioners said they are appealing the judgment.

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