Fate of 7 govs uncertain
As S/Court clears Ikpeazu, Okowa, Ishaku, Bello
So far, the APC controls 20 states, PDP 15 and APGA 1.
The Supreme Court has upheld the elections of governors of Abia, Delta, Niger and Taraba states in the March 9, 2019 governorship polls while seven other governors await the determination of appeals challenging their elections.
The states whose governorship elections are yet to be decided are: Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Imo, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto.
A five-member panel of justices presided by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, yesterday dismissed the appeals before the Supreme Court and affirmed the elections of governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia, PDP); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta, PDP); Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger, APC); and Darius Ishaku (Taraba, PDP).
In the first judgement on Abia delivered by Justice Adamu Galinje, the apex court held that the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Alex Otti, failed to prove the allegation of over-voting against Ikpeazu and the PDP by relying solely on the card reader.
He ruled that the position of the apex court has been that where documents are dumped on the court, it would not attach any probative value to it.
He added that the makers of Forms EC8As, which statements of results contained names of accredited voters and number of voters, should have been called to demonstrate them.
Ruling on the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the election of Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, Justice Ejembi Eko held that a Federal High Court having disqualified its original candidate, the party had no flag bearer in the March 9 governorship election and ought not to have challenged the election.
Citing the provisions of sections 141 and 285 of the Electoral Act, Justice Eko said Professor Muhammad Sani Yahaya, who was presented by the party in Taraba, did not participate in all the processes of the election and is prohibited by law to be a successor to a candidate who was disqualified by a Federal High Court.
He explained that since the party proceeded to participate in the election despite the subsisting court order disqualifying its candidate, Abubakar Danladi, the votes cast for it are not valid but “wasted votes.”
“The appeal is mere academic exercise and will serve no useful purpose,” he said.
On the Niger appeal brought by PDP’s Umar Mohammed Nasko, Justice Uwani Abba-Aji dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the issue of non-qualification and false information against Governor Bello had become statute barred having been brought outside the 180 days allowed by law.
She said the apex court cannot interfere with the decision made by the Court of Appeal on the judgement of the Niger State Election Petitions Tribunal, adding that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction on the matter.
In the appeal by Great Ogboru of APC against Governor Okowa of Delta, Justice Cletus Nweze ruled that the appellant dumped documents on the tribunal without demonstrating their relevance to his case.
He held that Ogboru relied too much on hearsay evidence in his allegations of over-voting and other electoral malpractices in the March 9, 2019 governorship election.
S/Court to decide petitions against 7 state govs
The Supreme Court is expected to decide within this month, the remaining seven cases including the appeal by former governor of Adamawa State, Jibrilla Bindow (APC) against Governor Ahmadu Fintiri (PDP); Bauchi appeal between former governor Mohammed Abubakar (APC) against Governor Bala Mohammed (PDP); and Benue appeal brought by Emmanuel Jime (APC) against Governor Samuel Ortom (PDP).
Other cases are those against Imo Governor Emeka Ihedioha (PDP) by the APC candidate, Hope Uzodimma. There are other appeals by Action Alliance (AA) candidate, Uche Nwosu and the candidate of APGA Ifeanyi Ararume, all of them challenging the validity of the election of Ihedioha.
In Kano, there is the appeal by Abba Kabiru Yusuf (PDP) against Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano; the appeal by Jeremiah Useni (PDP) against Simon Lalong of Plateau State; and in Sokoto, the appeal was brought by APC’s Ahmed Aliyu challenging the election of Governor Aminu Tambuwal.
Other cases dispensed by the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court had earlier ruled on the appeals involving Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Katsina, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo and Rivers affirming the election of the governors.
But the petitions filed against governors of Cross River, Enugu, Gombe, Kebbi and Kwara did not make it to the Supreme Court. The governorship elections in Yobe and Jigawa did not attract any petition, while Kogi election, which held on November 16, 2019, is still at the tribunal.
Controversial appeals still at the S/Court
Governor Umar Fintiri will know his fate when the appeal by Bindow is heard at the Supreme Court. At the tribunal, Bindow alleged over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act as well as irregularities during the March 2019 re-run governorship election.
Fintiri polled 376,552 votes to defeat the incumbent Bindow who got 336,386 votes. Fintiri won by 40,166 votes.
The appeal filed by Abubakar who sought for a second term in Bauchi but was defeated by Mohammed is expected to deepen legal understanding on election litigation in Nigeria. The ex-governor filed his petition after conceding defeat to his would-be successor.
INEC initially declared the election of March 9 inconclusive as Mohammed polled 469,512 votes while Abubakar, who was rounding up his first term scored, 465, 453 votes.
The re-run election held on March 23, 2019 in 36 polling units across 15 local government areas, including results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, were stalled by a Federal High Court in Abuja on March 19, 2019 after the former governor and the APC brought an ex parte motion before it. The court, however, lifted the ban on March 25 to allow the conclusion of the collation which returned the opposition Mohammed as winner.
The appeal by Yusuf against Governor Ganduje at the Supreme Court will be dealing with the controversial issue of inconclusive and supplementary elections in Nigeria. Yusuf polled 1,014,353 votes against 987,829 votes by Ganduje before the election was declared inconclusive.
During the rerun, Ganduje won and was declared winner but Yusuf approached the election petition tribunal insisting that he won at first ballot. The verdict of the tribunal did not favour him but the PDP candidate decided to approach the apex court.
The appeal by APC’s Aliyu against Governor Tambuwal is another matter that will be of interest to Nigerians. Aliyu lost by the narrowest of margins of 512,002 votes to 511,661 votes he polled. This was after the collation was declared inconclusive on March 9, 2019, forcing a re-run on March 23, 2019 during which Tambuwal was returned as winner.
So far, the APC controls 20 states, PDP 15 and APGA 1.