On Saturday 1st October 2022, The FCT Area Council Election Appeal Tribunal upheld Hon. Christopher Zaka Maikalangu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council(AMAC) In a unanimous judgement, the three-man tribunal, including Justice S. B Belgore (Chairman), Justice Yusuf Halilu (member 1), and Justice Jude Onwuegbuzie (member 2), dismissed the August 5 judgment of the FCT Area Council Election Tribunal, which declared Hon. Murtala Usman Karshi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), winner of the election held on February 12 ,2022.
The justices said that the judgement of the lower tribunal was not only evil but negated all the achievements recorded in Nigeria’s democracy. While reading out the lead judgment in suit FCT/ACEAT/AP/01/22, which had Christopher Zaka the Maikalangu as appellant and Murtala Karshi and three others as respondent, Justice Yusuf Halilu said that the lower tribunal erred by ignoring contradictory evidence before it and did a hatchet job by declaring Karshi winner of the election.He further revealed, “It is not in doubt the APC as a party was faced with legal battles after the party primaries to nominate a flagship bearer for the AMAC election held on February 12, 2022.
It is equally not in doubt that the 1st respondent, Murtala Usman Karshi, was involved in the said altercation, which eventually landed parties before the apex court of this land, i.e., Supreme Court of Nigeria, which eventually declared the 1st respondent as the winner of the APC primary for AMAC election.
We have seen the pieces of evidence supplied by both the appellant and the respondents to the lower tribunal. The witnesses listed by the APC as supervisors in the disputed polling units admitted they were not polling unit agents. It has become critical for us to ask questions at this point on what collating results connotes.
Can collation be done without polling units results? It is indeed a process of an election that votes are cast at polling units, results collated by electoral officers and results announced to the hearing of all. If that is the case, who then is the proper person to be called in the event that there is a complaint anchored on wrongful collation of results? Is it the ward supervisor or a polling unit agent? The answer is a polling unit agent,” Justice Halilu said.
The evidence of the supposed polling unit agents, who were not at the disputed units, falls within the evidence of hearsay or documentary hearsay, which arises when someone who is not privy to the origin of a document seeks to prove its content by an oral documentary. His words: “The petitioner failed woefully to prove its claim, arising from what was made at the lower tribunal, Elections are won at polling units and not at law courts. Our duty as court is to make judicial pronouncement- Justice Yusuf Halilu.
On the evidence of our findings that the witnesses above were not the polling unit agents in the affected polling units, the evidence of the witnesses, as entertained by the lower tribunal, is at this moment expunged.
The law cannot command an impossibility. The essence of justice is to do what is true and what is correct. INEC official certified the forms used in the election, you can then ask where the petitioner got his own form. This is for another day.
The judgement of the lower tribunal is not only bad, but evil and a travesty of justice. Minority must always have their say, but majority must be allowed to have their way. Morality cannot be legislated, but behaviour can be regulated.
Law may not change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. The attitude of the lower tribunal is tantamount to unsettling the tenets of law and turning it on its head. This is not good for our democracy. We have not seen any reason or reasoning that led to the decision in issue.
The judgment of the lower tribunal delivered on August 5, 2022, is now set aside.
The declaration of INEC that Christopher Zakka of the PDP is the duly elected chairman of AMAC is hereby restored. May God help us.