The Justice Godspower Christopher Aguna-led National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in the Minna High Court complex on Thursday upheld the election of Zubairu Ismaila of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Zubairu Ismaila, who contested the March 18 State House of Assembly election to represent Rafi Local Government state constituency, was challenged by Gambo Sani Inga, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on the allegations of overvoting and non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral act.
According to the petitoner, through his counsel, Barr K. J. Idrees, the election of the second respondent was not in compliance with the provisions of the electoral act 2022, and he requested the tribunal declare the petitoner the duly elected and rightful winner of the March 18, 2023, Governorship and State Assembly election, having won the majority of the votes cast.
He said the election as conducted across the majority of the polling units and wards of the Rafi state assembly constituency was characterised by over-voting and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 "among other irregularities. We therefore prayed to the tribunal to upturn the election of the second respondent and declare the petitoner the rightful winner of the election, having scored the majority of the votes cast".
During the pre-hearing trials of the tribunal, the petitoner assembled seven witnesses and five supplementary witnesses, as well as about 15 exhibits and evidences, all tendered and adjudicated by the tribunal.
While analysing the evidence and exhibits as tendered and the testimonies of the witnesses, the tribunal asserted that the witnesses contradicted themselves by filling their oaths in English and testifying in Hausa.
"The tribunal, having perused the exhibits and evidence and the testimonies of the seven witnesses, hereby dismissed the petition and upheld the election of the second respondent without awarding any cost to the petitioner," Justice Godspower Aguma said.
Speaking with journalists in an interview, the Chairman of Rafi Local Government Council in Niger State, Alhaji Ayuba Katako, described the judgement as a victory for democracy and appealed to the petitioner to come on board to join hands with him to attract speedy development to Rafi local government.
He said the election has come and gone, and "what is left for us now is to see how to bring development to our people and the generality of Rafi people".
He noted that the petitioner and the respondent are all critical stakeholders in Rafi local government urging them to bury their political differences and put their heads together to collectively think of how to improve the well-being of the people of the local government for their overall benefit.
Also speaking with reporters shortly after, the Judgement Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Rafi Local Government, Alhaji Aliyu Badi, described the judgement as an injury to democracy.
He said the party's critical stakeholders within and outside the state will soon make their next position known to the public on their next line of action.
Niger State Governor, Mohammed Umaru Bago, has stated that adopting and tapping into the green economy in the state will boost its internally generated revenue (IGR).
He expressed concern that 82% of people are going through multidimensional poverty in education, health, security, portable drinking water, and sanitation.
He further stated that a green economy would facilitate the use of renewable energy, thereby reducing overdependence on the national grid, promoting agriculture, and increasing employment opportunities for youths in the state.
The governor made the disclosure during the technical session of the first Niger State Green Economy Summit held in Minna, the state capital.
While explaining the advantages of tree planting considering the land mass and arable land in the state, the governor said harnessing a green economy will move the state from largely depending on federal allocations.
The governor, who urged Nigerlites to key into his administration's vision for sustainable economic growth, assured that the state government will provide an enabling environment for youths to understand the equation for self-reliance and sustainable development.
He disclosed that plans are underway to create farm cities using renewable properties, adding that youths will be gainfully employed in the construction of farmhouses.
To achieve his initiative of cultivating 10,000 hectares in each of the 25 local government areas, governor Umaru Bago said the state will procure hardware that will prepare the land.
According to the governor, “it is time for all hands to be on deck to change the narratives. We don't have a reason to be poor. We are agrarian, and we are very proud of it".
He said the summit would be an annual event to make the state an agricultural hub.
The technical session featured presentations, panel discussions, and question-and-answer segments.