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KANO GUBER APPEAL: Supreme Court’s hearing composition can’t suggest Justices’ possible mindset – Scholar

KANO GUBER APPEAL: Supreme Court’s hearing composition can’t suggest Justices’ possible mindset – Scholar

It is practically impossible to measure the mindset of the Supreme Court  of Nigeria Justices from the composition of the court during hearings.

This is the position of a Constitutional Law scholar from Bayero University, Kano who has indicated his preference to remain anonymous.

He wrote to NigerianSketch in response to an earlier submission of another Constitutional Law professor from Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete who said a Supreme Court hearing that has a five-membered panel has indicated that it was not disposed to hearing a constitutional issue. (Read the earlier submission here).

READ ALSO: Discreet Supreme Court attitude shows Abba Yusuf’s party membership not constitutional matter – Expert   

“I think court’s composition during hearing cannot be used to insinuate a possible line of reasoning or to determine the nature of the issues before the court,” he wrote in a missive to NigerianSketch on Saturday.

NigerianSketch had sent similar questions to both on the same topic, requesting them to give their opinions on the matter.

“I think there’s a difference between cases whose subject matter is intrinsically constitutional interpretation and those in which interpretation of the constitution or sections thereof is only incidental. Election cases are usually of the latter category,” he added, dismissing the insinuation that the apex court must have unknowingly revealed its disposition to the matter through its composition.

READ ALSO: SUPREME COURT: APC, NNPP deny trade-off, interference in Kano governorship petition

The contention

The question whether the apex court will consider Governor Abba Yusuf qualified to contest the March 18, 2023 governorship election considering his membership of the political party that floated him, formed the fulcrum of the argument of counsel before the court on December 21, 2023.

Yusuf contested for the governorship on the platform of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) but the Court of Appeal ruled that he was not a valid member of the party as of the time of the election, his name not been in the register of members submitted by the party to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

READ ALSO: KANO GUBER: NNPP denies deal with Tinubu, as Supreme Court fixes date for hearing

Based on precedents, the Supreme Court had variously said that issues bothering on membership of a contestant are purely internal matters of the political party concerned, and that a non-member of the party cannot question it.

The Supreme Court seemed to have also precluded courts from adjudicating upon internal party issues brought by a non-member in a post-election litigation.

While making his submission to the apex court at the hearing of the Kano governorship matter on December 21, INEC’s counsel A. B.  Mahmoud reiterated that Gov Yusuf’s membership of the NNPP, was an internal affair of the political party concerned and not for an external body, citing previous decisions of the apex court.

READ ALSO: KANO GUBER: Tension as party supporters await declaration of winner after NNPP lead

He emphasized that it is not a constitutional matter as claimed by the All Progressives Party (APC) which relies on Section 177(c) of the Constitution, as amended, and Section 77 of the Electoral Act.

Mahmoud contended that the NNPP submitted the name of Abba Yusuf as its candidate for the governorship election, and that if the APC had anything against Yusuf’s candidacy it should have done so after INEC published the names of candidates.

Gov Yusuf’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, also stressed that it is the internal affair of the party concerned, adding the lower court (Court of Appeal) lacked jurisdiction to decide on the choice of a political party’s candidate.

READ ALSO: INEC ‘reprimands’ legal officer who submitted letter of withdrawal in Kano guber appeal

APC’s counsel, Akin Olujimi, insisted that Section 177(c) of the Constitution is a key determiner of the Kano matter, and that the matter being a constitutional issue gives it jurisdiction to decide on it.

The contention therefore is whether Gov Yusuf’s membership of NNPP or otherwise is to be considered by the Supreme Court as a constitution matter.


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