Inconsistency in election tribunal rulings hurting democracy – Hyat


By Ephraims Sheyin

Mr Felix Hyat, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State, has said that the inconsistencies in the decisions of the election petition tribunals were hurting the nation’s democracy.

“The electoral law and the guidelines are the same, but we keep getting different rulings even with same facts and circumstances.

“Situations like that breed confusion,” Hyat told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.

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He opined that the tribunal rulings in many cases appeared to be “just the opinion of the Judges.

“Sometimes you feel that the judgments are based on their thinking. You get a feeling that they are not applying the law that is there for everyone to see”.

Hyat particularly expressed surprise at the contrasting rulings in Plateau even when all the facts, claims and circumstances were the same.

“The case of Plateau is rather strange. The petitioners are claiming that the PDP had no structure when the primaries were conducted.

“The petitioners tabled the same complaints, but while one tribunal dismissed their claims and ruled that PDP had a structure having complied with a court order to conduct a repeat Congress, another insisted that it did not have.

“I am not a lawyer, but we all know that the issue of primaries is purely an internal matter of the party.

“The Supreme Court has also ruled that the tribunals are not set up to listen to pre-election matters.

“The apex court has also declared that only an aspirant who participated in a primary election is qualified to challenge its outcome.

“So, you wonder; on what ground would a tribunal rule in favour of an opposing party that is alleging that the opponent did not hold a Congress? How does that become an outsider’s concern?”

Hyat also spoke on the rulings of the governorship tribunals in Kaduna State.

“Kaduna, Kano and Nasarawa States had the same complaints about irregularities in INEC calculations of votes during the governorship polls.

“Our complaints were simple. Let the illegal votes be discountenanced and deducted, and the winner is then announced after calculating the genuine and lawful votes.

“In Nasarawa, the right thing was done and the winner given his prize. It was the same thing in Kano.

“But in Kaduna, the tribunal only opted to call for fresh elections in some polling units even when we brought videos of scenes where votes were mutilated.

“We believe something went wrong. But we see that as a product of genuine mistakes and that is why we have gone to the appellate court.

“We are not lawyers, so we cannot sit somewhere and criticise. We must promote confidence because we are confident that the judiciary will right the wrongs.

“We believe that election is about votes. The winner is determined by numbers. We believe the PDP won in Kaduna and that is why we have approached the appeal court.

“The judgment was a split one with two Judges favouring the PDP while one was against. We believe that the higher courts have the final say,” he said. (NAN)

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