Rep. Mukthar Umar-Zakari (NNPP-Kano) has vowed to challenge the judgement of the Election Petition Tribunal which nullified his election over alleged certificate forgery.
Umar-Zakari, who represented Tarauni Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the tribunal had nullified his election and declared Hafizu Kawu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the Feb. 26 poll.
The three-man panel of the tribunal, led by Justice I.P. Chima, ruled that he was not qualified to contest for the election having forged his primary school certificate.
But Umar-Zakari denied submitting forged documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for election, saying that the discrepancies in his credentials were due to a change of name, which was made legally.
“For the avoidance of doubt and putting records straight, I was born Muktar Umar, was enroled in Hausawa Primary School, and graduated as Muktar Umar.
“So as it is in all my academic qualifications from primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, which are available for verification.
“However, in my desire to link my two names to the family, I added Zakari to my name and turned Mukthar Umar-Zakari after meeting all the legal and constitutional procedures regarding the change of names.
“These are :swearing an affidavit; newspaper publication; gazetted the name as required and obtained; deed poll,” he said.
Umar-Zakari said that the change of name was done long before the 2023 general election.
“Having obtained all the documents as contained above, I have without any fear to exercise my right to include Zakari in the name I have sent to Independent National Electoral Commission and fill Form CF001 for contesting the House of Representatives elections.
“I have the backing of the law and with legal documents obtained in the competent court.
“Meanwhile, in spite of all these, the court accused me of forgery; this judgement in effect, is a journey to deny me the right to a fair hearing, forgery of what? Is still the question many commentators are still asking,”he said
While pledging his respect for the rule of law, Umar-Zakari said he would challenge the tribunal verdict at the Appeal Court.
“As law abiding citizens who believe and respect the principles of justice and rule of law, I will continue to pursue justice and fair play to reclaim the mandate given to me by the good people of Tarauni Federal Constituency at the Appeal Court.
“I do hope the Appeal Court will use the discretion bestowed on them by the constitution of the Federation of Nigeria to review the judgement passed by the honourable justice of the tribunal in the interest of peace, stability, rule of law, and constitutional democracy,” he added.
Source: News Agency of Nigeria