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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

What APC, NNPP, INEC told Appeal Court in Kano governorship case

What APC, NNPP, INEC told Appeal Court in Kano governorship case

Kano State governor’s lead counsel in the state govership election appeal, Wole Olanipekun SAN, has urged the Court of Appeal to allow the appellant’s appeal and set aside in its entirety, the judgement of the Election Petition Tribunal.

Olanipekun argued that the  Tribunal has created new precedents which departed previous judgments of the Court and those of the Supreme Court.

On the issue of ballot papers, he contended that this was the first time in the history of the court that a Tribunal will annul an election over non-signing on the back of ballot papers.

“In doing that, the lower Tribunal erred,” Olanipekun said.

He further argued that this was the first time that a political party filed an election petition  without joining its candidate  and the latter was declared winner of the polls.

“Can a political party be sworn after an election or take an oath?,” Olanipekun argued holding that the judgement of the Tribunal should not be allowed to stand.

However, Akin Olujimi SAN, counsel for APC, in his reply on the issue of valid ballot, said the decisions of the Appeal Court right from 2009 have emphatically stated that non signing of ballots amounts to electoral malpractice.

He argued that INEC regulations have set out what presiding officers are to do at the point of voting, adding that the back of ballot papers must be signed and dated.

He said where there is a failure of presiding officers to do the needful, it amounts to non-compliance to the Electoral Act.

On the APC candidate who was not joined as a party at the Tribunal, Olujimi said it is settled law that votes are cast for the party in an election and that any decision affecting a political party embraces all its members.

In APC’s cross-appeal, Olujimi also urged the court to hold that the Kano State governor was not a member of the NNPP as of the time he was sponsored by the party.

A.B. Mahmoud SAN, counsel for INEC, asked the appeal court to dismiss APC’s cross-appeal for lacking in merit.

After hearing all the parties, the Court of Appeal said “Judgement in this appeal is hereby reserved to a date to be communicated to the parties,” the court of appeal said.

Recall that a three-man panel of the Tribunal led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay had sacked Yusuf on September 20, 2023, after deducting 165,663 of his votes.

The Independent National Electronic Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced Yusuf winner of the March 18, 2023 election, saying he garnered 1,019,602 votes to defeat Gawuna who got 890,705 of the votes cast.

But the APC approached the Tribunal, citing alleged electoral malpractice.

The Tribunal, agreeing with the APC, nullified Yusuf’s election, adding that over 160,000 ballot papers “were not signed or stamped by INEC”.

Yusuf’s votes were subsequently reduced to 853,939 while Ganuwa’s 890,705 votes were not affected.

The governor then filed an appeal before the appellate court.

Nigerian Sketch reports that APC also entered cross-appeal before the court.


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