The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the elections of governors of eight states across the federation.
The seven-member panel of the Supreme Court in its series of hearings and judgements delivered within five hours of the court session reaffirmed a majority of verdicts earlier given at the lower court while upturning the Court of Appeal decisions in a few others.
In all, the apex court’s decision saw the eight incumbent governors emerging victorious over the various election petitions against them.
First among the list of election matters heard was a number of appeals filed by parties in the Oyo State March 2019 governorship election which saw the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Seyi Makinde emerge winner.
Mr Makinde’s challenger, Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had asked apex court to complete a pronouncement almost made by the Oyo State Court of Appeal which allowed Mr Adelabu’s petition against Mr Makinde’s victory, but failed to declare the election null and void.
In a judgement by the court of appeal on November 11, the court had set aside Mr Makinde’s victory at the Oyo State tribunal after ruling that the tribunal’s judgment in favour of Mr Makinde was “perverse”.
The appellate court, however, added that the matter could not be taken back to the tribunal at the time of its decision because the 180 days allowed for the hearing of election matters at the tribunal had elapsed.
The court then ordered parties to maintain the status-quo before the case was filed at the Court of Appeal.
Four out of five members of the panel at the court of appeal had given that decision in favour of Mr Adelabu.
After that decision by the appellate court in Oyo State, parties including Mr Makinde and Mr Adelabu approached the apex court, with various requests seeking to upturn the decision of the court of appeal.
In its decision on Wednesday, the apex court faulted the majority ruling of the court of appeal and aligned itself with the minority decision of the appellate court.
“After going through all the records and the briefs obtained. I find the judgement of the lower court majorly predicated on perversity cannot stand. It is hereby set aside,” the court ruled.
Also in a similar decision, the apex court also ruled against an appeal by a senator, Garba Lado, who had challenged the election of Governor Aminu Masari on the grounds that Mr Masari provided false information to the electoral commission, INEC, ahead of the elections.
Reading through documents supporting Mr Lado’s argument in court, the apex court said Mr Lado of the PDP failed to prove his allegations against Mr Masari.
Mr Lado had argued that credentials submitted by Mr Masari did not contain his complete names and that the credentials, in fact, belonged to a person distinct from Mr Masari.
In Lagos State, two parties, the Labour Party and the Alliance for Democracy, had approached the court with similar appeals seeking to disqualify the candidacy of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Part of the arguments presented by the applicants was that Mr Sanwo-Olu did not qualify for the elections because he had no valid voter’s card.
But in a decision, the court ruled that while the applicants were allowed to bring their requests, “using their own choice of language”, the nature of application brought did not comply with the provisions of the law.
The court also said the allegation of non-compliance as alleged by the applicants was not substantiated.
“A petitioner has the freedom to use his own language but should know that he is taking a big risk,” the court ruled.
“They were supposed to prove that the noncompliance not only existed but that it substantially affected the result of the elections. This they failed to do,” the apex court ruled.
Like his counterpart in Lagos State, the Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, also emerged victorious as the apex court ruled against an application challenging his election.
The court in a judgment read by Dattijo Mohammed said the applicants did not prove their allegation of non-compliance to the electoral laws.
“There is a failure to establish the substance of the alleged non-compliance,” the court ruled.
Mr Abiodun’s challenger, Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement, had approached the apex court to challenge the decision of the court of appeal which had dismissed his petition against Mr Abiodun’s election on November 11.
Mr Akinlade had also lost his bid against Mr Abiodun’s election at the Ogun State election tribunal.
In Kaduna State, the candidate of the opposition PDP, Isah Ashiru, had asked the court to set aside the decisions of the state election tribunal and the Court of Appeal which both affirmed the election of the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
Mr Ashiru alleged that the elections in Kaduna were marred by widespread non-compliance with electoral laws and that the ruling APC had rigged the elections in favour of Mr El-Rufai.
The apex court dismissed his application and affirmed the decisions of the lower courts.
…Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom, Nasarawa
The court similarly dismissed the cases against the elections of governors David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Udom Emanuel of Akwa-Ibom State and that of Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State after ruling that “the applications against the elections were not backed by substantial evidence to accord them merit.”
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