The legal battle to bring to the conclusion of the National Assembly Elections held on the 25th February, 2023 for Ijumu/Kabba -Bunu Federal Constituency which was declared inconclusive by the Returning Officer, Dr. Adams Baba has started as the Election Petition Tribunal sitting on the petition filed by Kogi Speaker, Rt. Hon. Olushola Matthew Kolawole, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the general election, has been granted the application to serve the candidate of the Africa Democratic Congress, (ADC) Salman Idris notice of the petition through substituted means.
It was gathered that Salman Idris had been evading service since the petition was filed in court few weeks ago.
Salman also allegedly informed all his family members, friends staff around him both in his Abuja and Aiyegunle residences not to disclose his house and office addresses or to receive any court documents on his behalf, as all efforts to serve him proved abortive.
Matthew Kolawole had challenged the illegal declaration of Salman Idris as the winner at the poll before the tribunal and also joined the Independent National Electoral Commission as well as the ADC in the suit.
It would be recalled that the Returning Officer for IKB Election, Dr. Adams Baba of the Federal Polytechnic, Idah had declared the election inconclusive due to margin of lead principle and ordered for supplimentary election in two units where election were cancelled in line with the 2022 Electoral Act and INEC Regulations and Guidelines, 2022, surprisingly the election that was earlier declared inconclusive legally was declared conclusive and a winner announced.
Adams Baba, the Returning Officer for Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency Election had said the APC candidate garnered 13,605 votes while ADC polled 13867 votes leaving the election with a margin of 262 votes which is less than the total permanent voters card collected in the two units cancelled, whereas the total PVCs collected in the two units cancelled is 1157 voters card, which is far higher, therefore
the principle of margin of lead should take its cause
‘Where the margin of lead between the two leading candidates in an election is NOT in excess of the total number of voters who collected their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) in Polling Units where elections are postponed, voided or not held in line with Sections 24(2 & 3), 47(3) and 51(2) of the Electoral Act 2022, the Returning Officer shall decline to make a return for the constituency until polls have been conducted in the affected Polling Units and the results collated into the relevant forms for Declaration and Return. This is the Margin of Lead Principle and shall apply wherever necessary in making returns for all elections in accordance with these Regulations and Guidelines’
In the petition filed by his lawyer, Matthew Kolawole is praying the tribunal to sack his opponent and order INEC to complete the election in the two polling units by conducting the supplimentary election ordered by the Returning Officer, Dr Adams Baba before the winner of the poll will emerge.
The court document read, “1. Your 1st Petitioner, OLUSHOLA MATTHEW KOLAWOLE is the candidate sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest the Ijumu/Kabba -Bunu Federal Constituency election, and, participated at the election.
“2. Your 2nd Petitioner, the ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) is one of the registered political parties in Nigeria and sponsored the 1st Petitioner as its candidate, to contest the Ijumu/Kabba -Bunu Federal Constituency election.
“3. The 1st Respondent, SALMAN IDRIS contested the Ijumu/Kabba -Bunu Federal Constituency election, as the candidate sponsored by the 2nd Respondent, AFRICA DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (ADC).
“4. The 2nd Respondent, the AFRICA DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (ADC), is one of the registered political parties in Nigeria and sponsored the 1st Respondent to contest the Ijumu/Kabba -Bunu Federal Constituency election.
“5. The 3rd Respondent, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) is the body charged with the responsibility of conducting national elections in Nigeria. The 3rd Respondent conducted the Federal Constituency Elections, including the Ijumu/Kabba -Bunu Federal Constituency election on 25th February, 2023 February 2023 ad – hoc staff recruited by it and who operated as the agents of the 3rd respondent.
“Every person who acted as Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers and Supervisory Presiding Officers in all the Polling Points/Stations/Units, Registration Area/Wards Collation Officers in the Registration Area/Ward Collation Centers, Local Government Collation Officers in the Local Government Collation Centers, Federal Constituency Collation Officers in the Federal Constituency Collation Centre, the Retuning Officer, the Resident Electoral Commissioner and any other person who acted in one capacity or the other on behalf of the 3rd Respondent at the aforesaid election, acted as agents of the 3rd Respondent.
“The Petitioners plead and shall rely on the Declaration of Result, FORM EC8E (I). 11. The 3rd Respondent declared the election inconclusive and did not make any return as the winner of the Ijumu/Kabba -Bunu Federal Constituency election, and, the Petitioners stated that the 1st Respondent was not duly elected and/or duly returned as the winner of the aforesaid election; having not scored the legally recognized majority of the lawful votes cast at the election due to cancellation in two units and deduction of his votes in some units in Ijumu local government area.
However, he has been served on 5th April, 2023 by substituted means in compliance with the order of National Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Lokoja.