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Supreme Court berates Court of Appeal over ‘perverse judgments’ in Kano, Plateau, Zamfara election appeals

Supreme Court berates Court of Appeal over ‘perverse judgments’ in Kano, Plateau, Zamfara election appeals

Nigeria’s Supreme Court berated some justices of the Court of Appeal over the quality of their judgments in the governorship election petitions brought before them.

Delivering judgment in governorship appeals involving eight states of the federation, the apex court described as perverse the judgments of the appellate court that nullified the elections of governors of Kano, Plateau and Zamfara States.

In three separate judgments, the appellate court justices had voided the election of Governors Abba Yusuf, Caleb Mutfwang and Dauda Lawal on grounds of alleged unlawful nomination and sponsorship and deduction of alleged illegal votes.

Justices of the apex court including John Okoro, Emmanuel Agim and Helen Ogunwumiju regretted that despite several decisions of the Supreme Court that tribunals and courts lacked the jurisdiction to dabble into the internal matters of political parties, some justices could still go ahead and sack a winner of an election on grounds of political parties’ primaries, nomination or sponsorship.

Jutice Agim, in the Plateau case, warned the legal profession especially “the bar and bench to wake up,” or else would soon render itself irrelevant.

“The judgment of the Court of Appeal is set aside, the election of the appellant is restored and the judgment of the tribunal affirming the election of the appellant is hereby affirmed,” he added.

Meanwhile, Presiding Justice, Okoro also reacting, lamented that, “a lot of people have suffered” because of the wrongful judgments of the appellate court which had sacked several legislators who won elections under the platform of the PDP.

Justice Helen Ogunwumiju also berated the appellate court for going into the issue of nomination and sponsorship despite several decisions of the apex court to the effect that a political party cannot challenge the primary election of another.

INEC had on March 20, 2023, declared Caleb Mutfwang of the PDP as the winner of the Plateau governorship election after he scored 525,299 votes, against the 481,370 votes of the APC and its candidate, Nentawe Goshwe.

In its judgment in last September the three-member panel of the Plateau tribunal had affirmed Mutfwang’s election and dismissed Goshwe’s petition for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

Not satisfied the petitioners proceeded to the appellate court where the three panel voided the judgment of the tribunal and ordered the sack of Mutfwang as governor on grounds of illegal nomination.

The appellate court had agreed with the appellants that the primary election that produced Mutfwang as candidate of the PDP was illegal, unlawful and constituted in violation of a court order.

The appellate court subsequently ordered INEC to issue a fresh Certificate of Return to Goshwe after withdrawing the earlier one issued to Mutfwang.

Dissatisfied, Mutfwang had approached the apex court to set aside the judgment of the appellate court on grounds that the issue of qualification was a pre-election matter, adding that the party did not at any time violated the order of court regarding organising fresh congress.

In the Zamfara case, Justice Agim, who delivered the lead judgment held that the judgment of the appellate court which nullified the judgment of the tribunal that affirmed election of Lawal as governor was perverse and ought to be set aside.

“The judgment of the Court of Appeal have no evidential foundation and it is hereby set aside. The order setting aside the judgment of the tribunal and order for fresh election are hereby set aside.

 

THISDAY

 

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