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Friday, June 21, 2024

Abba Yusuf is Kano State governor, Supreme Court says

Abba Yusuf is Kano State governor, Supreme Court says

The Supreme Court in Nigeria has decided that Abba Kabir Yusuf was the validly elected governor for Kano State.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel of Justices, on Friday, vacated the concurrent judgements of the Kano State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which sacked governor Yusuf and declared Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressive Congress, APC, as winner of the gubernatorial poll.

In the lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Okoro, the Supreme Court held that the two lower courts wrongly deducted valid votes that were credited to governor Yusuf by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

It held that the 165,663 votes that were deducted from Yusuf and the NNPP on the premise the ballot papers were not signed, stamped or dated, were valid.

The court held that contrary to the position of the lower courts, a total of 146, 292 of the ballot papers were confirmed to have been signed and stamped, only that they did not contain any date.

It held that by section 63(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, that ballot papers, which bore the official mark and was duly issued by INEC, were not totally invalid.

Besides, the court held that there was no evidence that governor Yusuf influenced the non-signing of the ballot papers.

More so, the court faulted the lower courts for nullifying Yusuf’s election on the premise that he was not a member of the NNPP.

It held that the issue of sponsorship of a candidate in an election was within the domestic affairs of a political party.

It held that Yusuf won the governorship election by majority of lawful votes and was duly nominated by his political party.

Recall that Abba Kabir Yusuf had filed an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which had affirmed his sacking late last year.

Initially, the state Election Petition Tribunal had sacked the governor based on alleged invalid votes and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to Nasir Yusuf Gawuna, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March, 2023 election.

The governor approached the Appeal Court, but the appellate court had affirmed his sack, saying he was not even a member of the NNPP as of the time of the election and could not have been said to have been properly sponsored for the election.

Supreme Court verdict

Today, the 12th day of January, 2024, the Supreme Court held that the 165,663 votes deducted from the NNPP because ballot papers on which they were cast were said not to have been signed, stamped and dated by INEC, would not stand.

NNPP had argued that those ballot papers were dumped on the Tribunal, except for about 1, 800 that were linked polling units. Their counsel argued that the court had no business analysing the ballot papers for the petitioners (APC).

INEC announced that NNPP polled 1,019,602 votes while APC scored 890, 705 votes, leaving a difference of 128,897 votes.

But after voiding 165,663 ballot papers, NNPP votes dropped to 853,939, while APC remained at 890,705, leaving a difference of 36,766 votes in favour of APC.

The tribunal said the petitioner has proven the allegation of the invalidity of some of the votes cast on the ground that the election was not in compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act, 2022.

The Supreme Court however saw it differently.

The court also sustained its stand that membership of a political party remained the internal issue of the party, and that the APC has no locus to challenge it. The court also decided that it could not pronounce on it, refusing to see it as constitutional issue as the APC had prayed for.

 

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