The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Bauchi State has fixed Monday, for its inaugural and commencement of pre-hearing conference into petitions filed before it.
In a statement, Alhaji Bello Abdullahi, Secretary to the tribunal, said that three petitions would be heard by the tribunal.
The petitions include those separately filed by three political parties challenging the election of Sen. Bala Mohammed of the People’s democratic Party (PDP), as governor-elect.
The parties are the Action Peoples Party (APP), Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and All Progressives Congress (PDP).
Bala Mohammed had polled 515,113 votes to defeat his closest rivals the outgoing Governor of the state, Mohammed Abubakar of the (APC) who scored 500,325 votes.
The three parties are seeking the nullification of Mohammed’s declaration as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) due to alleged noncompliance with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The APP in its petition, alleged that it fielded Alhaji Gumi Umaru and Sani Umaru as Governorship and deputy Governorship candidates respectively, but discovered on election day that the two candidates were excluded in the ballot papers.
APP explained that it had initially submitted the name of one Kabiru Isiyaku as its governorship candidate, who later turned down the nomination and was substituted with Gumi, but said the electoral body unlawfully excluded him as its candidate.
The party is, therefore, urged the tribunal to nullify the entire election and order for a fresh one to enable their candidates be accommodated.
The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) in its petition said the electoral body excluded names of its candidates, logo of the party in the ballot papers, including other election materials and all other documents used during the governorship election in the State.
It also called for the nullification of the entire election and sought for fresh exercise to enable its candidate, Ahmed Iliyasu, whom it said met all requirements participate.
The outgoing State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar and APC in their petition, refused to concede defeat, alleging widespread irregularities and saying he hoped the checks on disputed ballots of Bogoro, Bauchi and Tafawa Balewa Councils would overturn the results in their favour.
Abubakar complained about other aspects of the elections including how results in the three councils were tallied which culminated in the final scores in forms EC8E where Mohammed was declared winner as incorrect.
He, therefore, want the tribunal to declare him as winner of the election or order for conduct of a fresh election in the affected areas.
In another related development, another panel for Bauchi National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal code-named “Penal II” has been set up and inaugurated.
The second panel which has commenced sitting at court three, new Bauchi State High Courts Complex, is being chaired by Justice B. H. Tukur and assisted by Justice Bennett Ilaumo and Justice Toyin Adegoke.
The tribunal has been allocated 13 petitions out of which 10 are at prehearing stage, while three are at hearing stage.