Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has begun its defense against the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the conduct of March 8, 2023, Kaduna governorship election, which was won by Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The electoral commission stated that it has maintained a consistent position that the APC candidate and incumbent governor of the state won a free and fair election conducted in substantial accordance with the laws regulating election conduct in Nigeria.
Following PDP and its candidate Mohammed Ashiru Isa’s dramatic dismissal of the case on Thursday, the tribunal overseeing the election dispute adjourned to allow INEC to present its defense.
The petitioners subpoenaed a member of the electoral body’s staff as a crucial witness for their cause, but abandoned it when the witness’s deposition contradicted their claim that the election was not free and fair.
Earlier in the proceedings, another INEC witness had contradicted the petitioners’ case by confirming, under cross-examination by the legal team of Governor Sani, that the governorship election was free and fair, much to the petitioners’ dismay.
Instead of placing the summoned INEC official in the witness box, the petitioners decided to abruptly close their case so as not to be captured gasping again.
The court also scheduled Governor Sani’s defense opening as part of today’s proceedings, with INEC’s defense expected to be completed within the allotted time.
The governor is anticipated to defend his mandate from today through Friday.
The party that sponsored him, the APC, will defend its candidate in the election from Saturday through Monday.
The conclusion of the ruling party’s defense will lead to the parties in the petition delivering their final address on a date to be determined by the tribunal, concluding proceedings in the solitary petition pending against the governor’s election.
The court will then likely adjourn to render a verdict.
The governor had filed motions that, according to the most recent unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal, should have halted the proceedings, but the Kaduna tribunal had continued, promising to rule on those motions at an unspecified time in the future.