Niger Assembly: Court dismiss Suleiman Wanchiko, affirms Bako Kasim winner

69

The Abuja Court of Appeal has invalidated Suleiman Wanchiko’s victory for the Bida I (North) State Constituency election in Niger, removing him from his position as the winner. Instead, the court declared Bako Kasim of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the rightful winner of the election.

The three-member panel, delivering the judgment through Justice Bature Isa-Gafai, deemed Wanchiko’s appeal as lacking in merit.

The appellate court concurred with Kasim’s counsel, Johnson Usman, SAN, asserting that Wanchiko, who presented a forged testimonial to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), should be disqualified from participating in the election.

Reports states that INEC initially declared Wanchiko the winner of the Bida I (North) Constituency poll for the Niger State House of Assembly election held on March 18.

According to INEC’s announcement, Wanchiko secured victory with 12,062 votes, surpassing Kasim’s 11,820 votes.

Expressing discontent with INEC’s declaration, Kasim and the APC, represented by their counsel, Mr. Usman, pursued legal action through petition number EPT/NG/SHA/11/2023 titled “Bako Kasim and Another vs. Suleiman Muhammad Wanchiko and Another” at the state’s election petition tribunal.

Kasim based his petition on the assertion that Wanchiko was ineligible to participate in the election due to the submission of a forged testimonial to INEC. Additionally, he contended that the election was invalid due to non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022.

Following the trial, the tribunal acknowledged the merit in the petitioners’ arguments, leading to the disqualification of Wanchiko and an order for a re-run without his participation.

Unsatisfied with the tribunal’s decision, Wanchiko, represented by his counsel Aliyu Lemu, SAN, sought recourse at the Court of Appeal, requesting the court to overturn the tribunal’s ruling.

Conversely, Kasim’s attorney urged the court to dismiss the appeal and reinstate his client as the rightful winner of the election.

The appellate court upheld Usman’s argument, reasoning that with Wanchiko disqualified, the appropriate order was to declare Kasim as the winner of the poll. The court directed INEC to issue him a Certificate of Return.