2023 polls: You’re good to go, Supreme Court tells 6 govs

Nasarawa

The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed Abdullahi Sule as the duly elected governor of Nasarawa state.

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Eku who delivered the judgement dismissed the appeals by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Emmanuel Ombugadu.

The PDP had appealed to the apex court to set aside the November 23 judgement of the Court of Appeal which upheld Sule as the lawfully elected governor.

It canvassed that the October 2, 2023 judgement of the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal granted in favour of PDP and Ombugadu be restored.

It claimed that the Court of Appeal unjustly nullified the Tribunal’s judgement and unjustly declared Sule as the winner of the March 18 election.

It appealed that the votes of Nasarawa state people should count and be meaningful by declaring PDP and Ombugadu as winners as rightly done by the Tribunal.

The Appeal Court had, on November 23, 2023, reversed the sack of Governor Sule by the State Election Petitions Tribunal in its judgement delivered on October 2.

The appellate court held that the Tribunal headed by Ezekiel Ajayi acted in grave error in using witness statements on oath, not front-loaded as required by law to arrive at the unjust conclusion of nullifying the election of the governor.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Uchechukwu Onyemenam, the Court of Appeal had said the Tribunal was legally bound to act on witness statements filed along with the petition or front-loaded within 21 days stipulated by law.

The court held that no petition can lawfully be amended outside the 21 days allowed by law as wrongly done by the Tribunal.

“Since the statements used by the Tribunal to sack the Governor were not front-loaded in compliance with the law, the statements were a product of illegality with no probate value for a law Court to act upon,” it held.

The court also dismissed the over-voting issues used to annul the election, adding that the allegations were not established by law.

Onyemenam held that the petition by the governorship candidate of the PDP was nullity and invalid on the grounds that the jurisdictional issues raised by the governor were unlawfully ignored by the Tribunal.

The appellate court ruled that the Tribunal denied the Governor a fair hearing by not considering and making findings on the issues of jurisdiction raised at the hearing of the petition.

Onyemenam agreed that the denial of a fair hearing against the governor was fatal and tendered all decisions of the Tribunal invalid.

In all, the Court of Appeal reversed all orders made against the governor and INEC and affirmed Sule as the lawfully elected governor of the state.

INEC had declared Sule the winner of the governorship election on the grounds that he polled a total of 347,209 votes to defeat his closest opponent, David Emmanuel Ombugadu, who secured 283,016 votes.

Gombe

 

Also, the Supreme Court on Friday affirmed Inuwa Yahaya’s re-election as the governor of Gombe state.

Justice Kudirate Kekere-Ekun in the lead judgement dismissed the appeal by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Yahaya as the winner of the election after scoring 342,821 votes to defeat his closest rival, Jibrin Barde, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 233,131 votes in the last poll.

Displeased, the PDP and its candidate filed a petition claiming that Yahaya, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was not re-elected by a majority of lawful votes.

The opposition party alleged cases of ballot box stuffing and thumb-printings done by Yahaya’s supporters in nine of the state’s 11 LGAs.

However, the Gombe state governorship election petition tribunal dismissed the suit filed by the party and Barde.

S.B. Belgore, who led a three-member panel of the tribunal, struck out the petition.

Not satisfied with the tribunal’s verdict, Barde and PDP approached the appeal court.

T. N. Orji-Abadua of the court of appeal upheld the governor’s victory and dismissed the appeal.

“This appeal lacks merit. All the issues are resolved in favour of the respondent and against the appellant. No order as to cost. The judgement of the lower tribunal is hereby affirmed.”

However, the Supreme Court on Friday in unanimous judgement upheld the judgement of the lower courts and affirmed Inuwa Yahaya’s re-election.

Delta
Similarly, the apex court affirmed Oborevwori as Delta state governor

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgement, on Friday affirmed Sheriff Oborevwori as the duly elected governor of Delta state.

It dismissed the appeal brought before it by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Ovie-Omo-Agege, against the election of the governor

The court, in the lead judgement delivered by Justice John Okoro, held that Omo-Agege failed woefully to establish that the election was invalid for alleged corrupt malpractices.

Okoro said none of the allegations against the March 18, 2023, was established as required by law.

The Supreme Court rejected the plea by Omo-Agege that the election be nullified on the allegations that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act.

Okoro also rejected the claim that the results of the governorship election were not properly recorded in some polling units and the allegations that the forms that contained some of the recorded results did not have serial numbers.

While affirming Oborevwori as the lawfully elected governor, the apex court affirmed the judgements of the Delta State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal which had earlier dismissed Omo-Agege’s petition for want of merit.

Kebbi

Likewise, the Supreme Court Friday confirmed the election of Nasir Idris as the Kebbi state governor.

Delivering the judgement, Justice Uwani Abba-Aji dismissed the appeal by the PDP against the governor for lacking merit.

Abba-Aji held that the allegations of forgery of testimonial brought against the deputy governor of the state, Abubakar Tafida, were not established as required by law.

The apex court also held that the issues of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election failed because the appellants failed to prove how the allegations substantially affected the poll.

The apex court affirmed the judgment of the Kebbi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal delivered on October 5, 2023, and that of the Court of Appeal in holding that Idris was duly elected.

Kaduna

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also on Friday asserted the election of the Kaduna state governor, Uba Sani, as the duly elected governor.

Delivering judgement, Justice Tijjani Abubakar dismissed the appeal against the governor by the PDP and its candidate, Ashiru Isa.

The court of appeal in Abuja had on November 24, 2023, in a unanimous judgement affirmed the election of Uba Sani as Kaduna state governor.

The PDP and Ashiru had challenged the outcome of the governorship election held in the state on March 18.

They alleged that Uba was not duly elected by a majority of valid votes cast in the election, adding that the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

They further alleged that some polling unit results were wrongfully cancelled, insisting that there were inconsistencies in accreditation records from INEC.

However, in a judgement delivered on September 28, two of the three judges on the Tribunal dismissed the petition on technical grounds.

Victor Oviawie, who led the panel, said the petition was deemed abandoned because PDP and its candidate did not file their pre-hearing application within the time prescribed by law.

In his reaction, Governor Sani said the “historic Supreme Court’s judgement has officially sealed the mandate bestowed upon me by the indigenes.”

He expressed gratitude to the justices for their “sound judgement” and praised his opponent, Isa Ashiru, for “embracing the legal process.”

Governor Sani, who said this in a statement, emphasised the importance of democratic values, and urged all the citizens and groups committed to the country’s democracy to follow legal channels in addressing grievances.

“With the legal disputes over, it is time for us to join hands to take Kaduna state to a higher level. Today’s verdict is a reminder that our mandate is about improving the lives of our people rather than engaging in wild celebrations,” the statement read in part.

Ogun

In a related development, the apex court also on Friday affirmed Dapo Abiodun as the duly elected governor of Ogun state in the March 2023 governorship elections.

Justice Tijjani Abubakar who delivered the judgement dismissed the appeals against Abiodun.

The appeals were filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the March 18 governorship election, Ladi Adebutu.

Adebutu’s appeal was seeking the nullification of the declaration of Dapo Abiodun as winner of the election.

Specifically, he was challenging Abiodun’s re-election on the ground that the Electoral Act, 2022 was not adhered to, citing corrupt practices and issue of non-qualification.

PDP and Adebutu had urged the Supreme Court to set aside and dismiss the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which had, on November 23, affirmed the decision of the Tribunal in upholding Adiodun’s victory.