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HomeJudiciaryTension As S’court Delivers Judgments On Lagos, Kano, Plateau, 4 Govs Disputes

Tension As S’court Delivers Judgments On Lagos, Kano, Plateau, 4 Govs Disputes

Tension has gripped Lagos, Kano, Bauchi, Cross River, Ebonyi, Plateau and Zamfara states ahead of the Supreme Court judgment on the 2023 governorship disputes today. Already hearing notices from the Supreme Court have been issued and served on parties.

Meanwhile, the apex court has reserved judgments on the appeals involving the governorship election in Abia, Delta, Ogun and Nasarawa states.

Security has been beefed up in and around the Supreme Court premises and across the affected states ahead of the judgment.

Kano

The Supreme Court had last December reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Governor Abba Yusuf challenging the verdict of the Court of Appeal and the state Election Petitions Tribunal, which removed him from office.

The five-member panel led by Justice John Okoro reserved judgment after the parties adopted their brief of arguments canvassed for and against the appeal.

In September, the Kano Governorship Election Tribunal had nullified the victory of Yusuf, candidate of the New Nigeria’s Peoples Party (NNPP) and affirmed Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor.

On November 13, the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the tribunal. In its ruling, it agreed with the judgment of the tribunal, ruling that the fielding of Yusuf was in breach of the Electoral Law as he was not qualified to contest the election. But the governor proceeded to the Supreme Court to seek redress.

Lagos

In November, the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal, affirmed the judgment of the tribunal that confirmed the return of Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat as governor and deputy.

In a unanimous judgment, the Justices of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) for lack of merit.

In March, INEC declared Sanwo-Olu as the winner of the Lagos governorship election. He polled 762,134 votes to defeat his challengers, LP’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who scored 312,329 votes and PDP’s Abdulazeez Adediran popular with 62,449 votes.

Not satisfied, the LP and PDP candidates approached the Lagos State Election Petitions Tribunal to nullify Sanwo-Olu’s victory.

In its ruling on September 25, the tribunal dismissed Adediran and Rhodes-Vivour’s suit seeking.

Displeased with the verdict, the duo approached the appellate court but the higher court dismissed their suits. Both men subsequently approached the apex court.

Plateau

The Supreme Court on January 9, 2024, reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Governor Caleb Mutfwang urging it to uphold his election.

The governor had alleged that he was not given a fair hearing by the Court of Appeal, therefore its decision to nullify his election was manifestly flawed.

The Court of Appeal on November 19 sacked the governor and declared the governorship candidate of the APC, Nentawe Yilwatda, winner. Mutfwang faulted this and asked the Supreme Court to restore his mandate.

In his eight issues distilled before the Court of Appeal, Governor Mutfwang argued through his legal team led by Kanu Agabi that only one of them was determined as others were untouched. He said the decision of the Court of Appeal was contrary to the directive of the Supreme Court that intermediate courts should pronounce on all issues placed before it.

The appellant told the Supreme Court that when he presented eight issues before the Court of Appeal, only one was considered to invalidate his election. During the hearing of the appeal on Tuesday, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by John Okoro took arguments from lawyers to parties in the case.

After a fierce session of arguments between Mr. Mutfwang’s counsel, Kanu Agabi, and Mr. Yilwatda’s counsel, J.O Olatoke, the Supreme Court said a date for judgment would be communicated to parties in the suit.

But before reserving judgment in the appeal, the Supreme Court raised two fundamental questions as to whether the tribunal had jurisdiction to listen to issues of party congresses. And also whether given its judgments in several cases, issues of nomination and sponsorship which are pre-election matters can be entertained by the Tribunal.

Bauchi

In November 2023, the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal affirmed the victory of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State in the March 18 governorship election.

The appeal was filed by the APC candidate, Sadique Abubakar, following the tribunal judgment that affirmed Mohammed’s victory.

The panel of three justices was unanimous, awarding no cost as the court ruled that each party to the matter should bear their costs. The presiding judge, Justice Chidi Nwaoma Uwa, read the judgment in the order of the appellant’s plea before the appeal court.

On plea number one, the appellant pleaded that the election be nullified because the forms and booklets used in the election were not properly filled. The court ruled that the appellant failed to prove the allegation with the needed evidence.

Zamfara

In November last year, the Appeal Court nullified the election of Governor Dauda Lawal.

Lawal, candidate of the PDP, was declared winner to unseat the then incumbent, Bello Matawalle of the APC. According to INEC, Lawal polled 377,726 votes while Matawalle scored 311,976 votes.

The PDP candidate, now serving as Minister of State for Defence, had accused INEC of subverting his victory at the poll by failing to include the results of some ward areas.

In an earlier ruling on September 18, the Zamfara Election Petitions Tribunal held that the petition was devoid of merit. While upholding Lawal’s victory, the tribunal awarded a N500,000 fine against the petitioners.

An unsatisfied Matawalle, as observers expected, took the matter to the Court of Appeal, to challenge the decision of the lower court. Respite came for Matawalle as the three-member panel led by Justice Oyebisi Folayemi, nullified the return of Governor Lawal.

Justice Sybil Nwaka ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas where elections were not held previously or where results from various polling units were not counted. But the governor proceeded to the apex court to seek redress.

Ebonyi

Last November, the Court of Appeal in Lagos affirmed the election of APC’s Fran-cis Nwifuru as the duly elected governor.

The three-member panel presided over by Justice Jummai Sankey, in its unanimous decision, dismissed the appeal filed by PDP’s Chukwuma Odii and upheld the earlier verdict of the tribunal but the PDP candidate approached the apex court to seek redress.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday reserved judgment in the Ebonyi State governorship election appeal.

Cross River

The Cross River State Governor, Senator Bassey Otu of the APC would know whether he would continue in office or not today. The Court of Appeal, Calabar Judicial Division, had dismissed the appeal filed against him by the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Sandy Onor

Senator Onor had approached both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal, insisting that Otu must be disqualified from the race for allegedly holding dual citizenship, certificate forgery, and not being a member of the APC as of the time of the election.

But the two lower courts dismissed the PDP case and agreed with the governor’s counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, that the PDP cannot challenge the governor on the grounds of party sponsorship and nomination because they were not aspirants during the APC governorship primaries.

At the hearing on Thursday, Dr. Joshua Musa, asked the apex court to set aside subsisting judgments of the courts below for being perverse.

He said the major complaint of his client was that the governor did not vacate his seat as a lawmaker before running for governor.

But K.O. Balogun, counsel for INEC, urged the court to dismiss the appeal because the APC membership register tendered as evidence at the two lower courts showed that the governor was the party’s member.

The governor’s lawyer asked the apex court to dismiss the matter with punitive costs.

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