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Court of Appeal Nullifies Wanchiko’s Victory in Niger Assembly Election

Court of Appeal Nullifies Wanchiko’s Victory in Niger Assembly Election

In a significant legal development, the Court of Appeal in Abuja has overturned the victory of Suleiman Wanchiko of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Bida I (North) State Constituency election in Niger. The court declared Bako Kasim of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the rightful winner of the poll.

The three-member panel, led by Justice Bature Isa-Gafai, delivered the judgment, deeming Wanchiko’s appeal as unmeritorious. The court concurred with Kasim’s counsel, Johnson Usman, SAN, who argued that Wanchiko’s presentation of a forged testimonial to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) warranted his disqualification from the election.

The INEC initially declared Wanchiko the winner of the Bida I (North) Constituency poll for the Niger State House of Assembly election held on March 18. Wanchiko secured 12,062 votes, surpassing Kasim, who received 11,820 votes.

Unsatisfied with INEC’s declaration, Kasim and the APC, represented by Mr Usman, took the matter to the state’s election petition tribunal with petition number EPT/NG/SHA/11/2023, titled Bako Kasim and another Vs. Suleiman Muhammad Wanchiko and another. The petition alleged that Wanchiko was ineligible to contest the election due to the submission of a forged testimonial and that the election was invalid due to non-compliance with the Electoral Act of 2022.

After a thorough trial, the tribunal found merit in the petitioners’ arguments, leading to Wanchiko’s disqualification and an order for a re-run without his participation.

Unyielding, Wanchiko, through his counsel, Aliyu Lemu, SAN, appealed the tribunal’s decision at the Court of Appeal, urging the court to set aside the judgment. In response, Kasim’s lawyer insisted that the appeal be dismissed and his client be reinstated as the rightful winner.

The Court of Appeal sided with Usman’s argument, emphasizing that with Wanchiko disqualified, the appropriate action was to declare Kasim as the winner of the poll. The court directed INEC to issue Kasim a Certificate of Return.

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