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Read what transpired, as Supreme Court reserves judgement In Kano governorship appeal

Read what transpired, as Supreme Court reserves judgement In Kano governorship appeal

The Supreme Court today (Thursday) reserved its judgement in the Kano governorship appeal.

The apex court reserved its judgement after hearing parties in the appeal.

The appeal was against the November 17th Court of Appeal judgement that affirmed the election petition tribunal’s judgement, removing Kano State governor, Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and declaring Nasiru Gawuna of the APC as the winner.

The three-member panel of the Appeal Court rejected Governor Yusuf’s appeal, citing concerns related to his party membership.

Recall however that confusion ensued on Tuesday, November 21, as the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the court judgement contained what was termed by some as inconsistencies in the conclusions.

INEC on ballot papers, membership of candidate

The Supreme Court five-member panel of justices headed by Justice John Okoro heard the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through its counsel, A. B. Mahmoud, submitting that the key witness, whose testimony was the ground for deducting the 165,616 votes of Yusuf deemed unlawful, was subpoenaed to give evidence.

He, therefore, said that his testimony was inadmissible having not been front loaded along with the main petition at the tribunal and as such his testimony and the exhibits he tendered were incompetent.

According to him the contested 165, 616 ballot papers were authentic and originated from INEC and not elsewhere. He said it’s not the duty of a voter, on the day of election, to check if a ballot paper is signed or stamped and without a date of election, adding that’s the task of a party agent.

Mahmoud further informed the apex court panel that the recounting of votes was done privately at the Tribunal chambers after the deduction of the contested 165,616 votes. He adds that even when they were brought to the Court of Appeal they weren’t demonstrated.

INEC’s counsel further told the apex court panel that only a portion of the unlawful ballots were examined at the Tribunal.

Mahmoud thereby clarified that he is not taking sides except with respect to the correct interpretation of the law.

On Yusuf’s membership of the NNPP, he stated that is an internal affair of the political party concerned and not for an external body, citing previous decisions of the apex court. He therefore added that it is not a constitutional matter as claimed by the APC which relies on Section 177(c) of the Constitution, as amended, and Section 77 of the Electoral Act.

Mahmoud faulted the practice of political parties, which seek to use the Court as an “arena” to get victory after the voters had decided. He informed the Apex Court 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.

Olanipekun on Gov Yusuf’s APC membership

Yusuf through his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, faulted the nullification of his electoral victory on grounds of the INEC presiding officer failing to sign or stamp the ballot papers. Olanipekun argued that that has nothing to do with the Electoral Act, insisting it is on INEC’s guidelines and as such not sufficient grounds to deem the votes unlawful warranting nullification.

Olanipekun told the Apex Court panel that based on the evidence given by an expert witness during the Tribunal stage of the matter, only about 1,800 ballots were not signed or stamped. And that those are insignificant figures and as such insufficient to void the election.

On the membership of Yusuf, Olanipekun stressed that it is the internal affair of the party concerned, with the courts therefore lacking jurisdiction to decide on the choice of a political party’s candidate. He therefore prayed the court to overturn the decision of the Appeal Court which affirmed the decision of the Tribunal sacking the governor.

Constitutional issue gives court jurisdiction

Akin Olujimi, counsel for the APC 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.

 

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