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Disputed polls: In one fell swoop, Nigeria’s Apex Court clears eight governor

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Supreme Court affirms Makinde, Sanwo-Olu, El-Rufai, five others’ elections

 

In one fell swoop, eight governors have been cleared by the nation’s Supreme Court as it adjudicated in the disputed polls of March 9, 2019 that brought them to power.

 

The are Governors Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Udom Emmanuel(Akwa Ibom),  David Umahi (Ebonyi), Aminu Masari (Katsina),  Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State.

 

Makinde, Emmanuel and Umahi contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, while Sanwo-Olu, El-Rufai, Masari, Abiodun and Sule stood election as the All Progressives Congress candidates.

 

A seven-member panel of justices led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, in separate judgments, affirmed their elections on Wednesday in an unprecedented sweeping ruling in the cases, all in one day.

 

The judgments were reeled out in two tranches with the members of the panel retiring to their chambers to prepare their judgments and returned about an hour after to give the summary of their verdicts on the appeals.

 

The Oyo State governorship dispute turned out to be the most contentious among the appeals decided by the apex court on Wednesday, as all the parties to the case filed separate appeals against the November 11, 2019 judgment of the Ibadan Division of the Court of Appeal.

 

Although, the Court of Appeal, had in its split judgment of four-to-one substantially upheld the case of the APC and its candidate in the governorship poll, Adebayo Adelabu, it refused to make any order nullifying Makinde’s election.

 

The APC and Adelabu, through their lawyer, Mr Aliyu Umar (SAN), had filed an appeal against the Court of Appeal’s judgment, urging the apex court to make a specific order nullifying Makinde’s victory at the poll.

 

Makinde’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), had filed an appeal asking the apex court to set aside the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal and affirm the judgment of the election petition tribunal, which affirmed him as the duly elected governor of the state.

 

Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment, overturned the November 11, 2019 judgment of the Ibadan Division of the Court of Appeal and restored the judgment of the Oyo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which had declared Makinde and his party, the winner of the election.

 

Justice Eko said, “After going through the briefs of arguments, I find merit in this appeal.

 

 

“The judgment of the lower court is mainly based on perversity. The majority judgment is hereby set aside.

 

“The minority judgment/decision of the lower court represents a more sober reflection on the issues.”

Upholding El-Rufai’s election as Kaduna State governor, Justice Centus Nweze, who delivered the lead judgment, dismissed the appeal by Isah Ashiru of the PDP.

Justice Nweze noted that the concurrent judgments of both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal dismissing Ashiru’s appeal could only be set aside if found to be perverse and consistent in error.

But he noted that the appellants (Ashiru and the PDP) “failed to show the perversity in the concurrent judgments.”

In Nasarawa Gov. Abdullahi Sule’s case, Justice Mary Peter-Odili, who read the lead judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the PDP and its candidate, David Ombugadu.

Justice Peter-Odili noted that the APC won in 13 local government areas, while the PDP won in only one.

She ruled that the appellants failed to prove their alleged case of “non-compliance affected the election.”

 On the Lagos State Governorship poll, Justice Paul Galinje, who delivered the lead judgments in two appeals challenging Sanwo-Olu’s victory,  held that the appeal by the Labour Party and its candidate, Prof. Ifagbemi Awamaridi, and the other by the Alliance for Democracy and its candidate, Chief Owolabi Salis, lacked merit.

In respect of Ogun State, Justice Peter-Odili also dismissed the appeal by Mr Adekunle Akinlade and his Allied Peoples Movement challenging the victory of Gov. Dapo Abiodun.

She held that the appellants failed to prove the alleged non-compliance of the conduct of the March 9, 2011 poll in the state.

Also on Akwa Ibom State, Justice Dattijo Muhammad, upheld Gov. Udom Emmanuel’s election after dismissing the appeal by Nsima Ekere and his party, the APC, for lacking in merit.

 Justice Amina Augie delivered judgments in Ebonyi and Katsina governorship tussles and upheld the elections of the governors of the two states.

She dismissed the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Movement and his candidate, Chief Ajah Arua, as he held that they failed to prove that they were validly nominated to participate in the election, not to talk of proving that they were unlawfully excluded from the poll.

Masari’s election as Katsina State governor was upheld by Justice Augie, who dismissed the petition filed by the PDP and its candidate, Garba Lado.

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