Judges, lawyers explain how Appeal Court’s slip uphold Kano’s Abba Kabir as governor
The Certified True Copy of the Court of Appeal judgment on the governorship election petition in Kano State emerged on Tuesday with some contradictions that have sparked controversy.
Contrary to what the court read out on Friday when delivering the verbal judgement, the written copy set aside the judgement of the Kano Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and allowed Gov Abba Yusuf’s election.
Nigerian Sketch reached out the Court of Appeal and some counsel in the legal team of the governor to confirm that the soft copy off the judgement being circulated truly emanated from the court.
Our source at the Court of Appeal said the hard copies that were certified by the court were consistent with the soft copy that was circulating online.
Also, Ibrahim G. Waru, a counsel in the governor’s camp who filed all the processes for the governor in Kano, confirmed that the hard copy which was released to his camp was consistent with the circulating soft copy.
The lead judgement of the court read by Justice Moore Adumein on Friday upheld the judgement of the tribunal declaring APC candidate, Nasiru Gawuna, as winner of the governorship election in the state.
But, the CTC’s last paragraphs said the contrary, and even awarded N1,000,0000 cost in favour of the NNPP against the APC.
In one instance, the appellate court declared “I will conclude by stating that the live issues in this appeal are hereby resolved in favour of the 1st respondent (APC) and against the appellant (Governor Abba Yusuf)”, but went further to contradict itself in another sentence.
The court said: “In the circumstances, I resolve all the issues in favour of the appellant (NNPP) and against the 1st respondent (APC).”
The court went further to declare that “Therefore, I find no merit in this appeal which is liable to be and is hereby dismissed.”
But in the final line of the judgement, the court set aside the judgement of the tribunal, which sacked the governor.
Recall that the Kano State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on September 20 sacked the governor and declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Nasiru Gawuna, winner of the March 18 governorship poll.
Dissatisfied by the lower tribunal’s decision, the governor, through his counsel Wole Olanipekun, asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the tribunal.
But the court of appeal in a unanimous ruling on Friday said the governor was not a valid candidate in the March 18 gubernatorial election.
There have been allegations that some forces were involved in manipulating the Court of Appeal judgement in the case, claiming that an original written judgement was substituted in the last hours.
Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana, expressed dismay at what he called “some contradictions” in the Certified True Copy of the judgement of the Court of Appeal in the Kano State Governorship election petition appeal.
In an interview with Arise News on Wednesday Falana said, “To my utter dismay, the majority judgement of the Court of Appeal in Kano upheld the appeal, set aside the judgement of the lower courting writing and awarded cost in favour of the governor that was removed by the lower Tribunal. So, I was asking myself, what’s going on.
“The main judgement of the Court of Appeal has confirmed that the judgement of the lower court was wrong, and has it aside in writing, upheld the appeal, granted all the relief sort by Governor Abba.
“Some contradictions which the court can no longer explain but which is likely to be taken up…”
However, some lawyers have attributed the contradictions to what they called ‘slip’, which they said was not unusual at all.
A Kano-based lawyer who is known to be sympathetic to the NNPP and Governor Yusuf, Abba Hikima, wrote on his Facebook page that “At the risk of dashing peoples’ hope, I’d like to point that the seeming confusion in the certified true copy of this judgment of the Court of Appeal is no more than a slip. Court judgments are not immune from slips, errors and mistakes. That’s why in law, we have the “Slip Rule” which allow courts to correct slip and genuine mistakes.
“Without factual basis indicating otherwise, this in my view could pass as a slip since every other part of the judgment is clear that AKY’s appeal has failed. Documents are not read in isolation. We cannot pick and choose.
“AKY’s camp should rather invest their energy in the substance and live issues of the appeal than bother needlessly about slips which could be cured and corrected suo motu by the Supreme Court.”
Consistent with Hikima’s position, a Lagos-based judge also said “The logical way to look at this thing is to read the whole judgement. Is the body of the judgement consistent with the paragraphs in question? It does not make sense that a more that 15-page judgement did not give you victory, and only two short contradictory paragraphs will give you victory.
“Also, this was a judgement given by a three-man panel. Was the pronouncement of the other two Justices of the Appeal Court consistent with the contradictory part of the lead judgement? If no, then we know it was just a matter of slip. It happens out of human error caused by pressure and other human weaknesses”
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