JUSTICE Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, dismissed a suit seeking to unseat governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.
Bagudu’s main opponents in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Kebbi State, Maj. Gen. Bello Sarkin-Yaki (rtd.), Anthony Itanyi and Sahabi Sami, had, in the suit, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/312/2015, asked the court to declare Bagudu incompetent to contest the governorship poll in the state.
But, the trial Judge, in his judgement delivered yesterday held that the plaintiffs have failed to prove the criminal allegations preferred against the governor, who was joined in the suit with his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice Mohammed held that all the documents (exhibits) placed before the court by the plaintiffs failed to show that Governor Bagudu was sentenced or fined for any offence by any court or tribunal.
According to the Judge, the court cannot accord any probative value on the exhibits of the plaintiffs as there is no legal effect on them.
“There are several Supreme Court judgments to the effect that no probative value should be attached to documents that are not tendered in court by the maker of such documents”.
He said the plaintiffs could not prove before the court that the information the first defendant (Bugudu) provided in form CF.001 to INEC was false and added that “From the evidence of the plaintiffs, I am of the opinion that he has failed, through his witness that the first defendant was convicted by a court in the United States of America for criminal offence.
Justice Mohammed said, the first defendant was arrested in May 2003 for extradition, which he pointed out does not amount to a sentence of any kind and added that nothing was before the court to suggest that the first defendant was convicted for any offence.
The judge said the burden is on the plaintiffs to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the criminal allegations levelled against the governor.
“On the whole, I see no merit in the suit of the plaintiffs, and it is hereby dismissed. No order as to cost”, the Judge held.
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The plaintiff had, in his suit challenging the eligibility of Atiku Bagudu as the governorship candidate of the APC in the 2015 state governorship election in Kebbi State.
His suit, among other reliefs, sought the removal of Bagudu as the governor of Kebbi State.
The plaintiffs asked the court to disqualify Bagudu as a candidate in the election and remove him from office on the grounds that the governor gave false information in the Affidavit of Personal Particulars otherwise called Form CF.001 submitted by him to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The plaintiffs contended that claim by Bagudu in Form CF.001 to the effect that he was not under a fine for the offence, “involving in dishonesty or fraud or any offence imposed by a court or tribunal is false”.
They claimed that contrary to Bagudu’s claim, it had been discovered that he was allegedly fined by a court in the United States of America (USA).