The Supreme Court of Nigeriatoday ruled in favour of governors Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano and MuazuAliyu of Nigeria on petitions brought against them by opposition candidates in last April’s elections in the two states.
The candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP) in Kano, SagirTakai, had approached the apex court asking it to set aside the ruling of the court of Appeal which upheld the decision of the Kano state tribunal which had earlier ruled that ANPP’s petition lacked merit.
Mr. Takaiasked the court to annul the elections on the grounds that there was widespread abuse of the provisions of the Electoral Act in at least 23 local governments in the state.
Ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court in a judgement read by Justice Suleiman Galadima also dismissed the appeal for lacking merit and the inability of the petitioner to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt, thereby agreeing with the decisions of the state tribunal and the court of Appeal on the matter.
Justice Mary Odili who read the apex court’s ruling on the petition filed by the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in last April’s elections in Niger state, Ibrahim Shettima, also dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
Justice Odili held that the appellant “failed to take the legal way to show the court that INEC did not produce materials requested for by him to be used as evidence”, she held that it was not the duty of the Supreme Court to compel INEC to obey the order adding also that the lower courts were right in arriving at their decisions.
Justice Odili thereafter dismissed the appeal and upheld the decisions of the state tribunal and the court of Appeal.
In November 2011, the three man panel of the Kano state election tribunal headed by Justice IyaboKasali dismissed the petition filed by the ANPP against the victory of the incumbent governor and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr.Kwankwaso, at the April polls.
In the judgment, the three-man panel punctured the evidence submitted by the petitioners in attempting to establish non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in the election.
The ANPP through had its counsel, Ricky Tarfa (SAN), told the court that the election was fraught with irregularities, corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. It prayed the court to pronounce the declaration of Mr. Kwankwaso null and void based on these allegations.
The respondents through their counsel, Akin Olujimi (SAN), denied the allegations levelled against his victory at the polls by the petitioners.
While adopting his written address, counsel to the respondents also prayed the court to expunge a certain portion of the written address submitted to the tribunal in the defence of the electoral allegations filed against the incumbent governor.
The court held that the results been argued by the petitioners were not pleaded in their claims before the court, adding that the evidence given by INEC before the tribunal contradicts the claims of non-compliance to electoral act being alleged by the petitioners.
The tribunal stated that the ANPP failed to substantiate its claims of irregularities, and owing to this failure the court therefore refrained from pronouncing as invalid the results from some few areas, where the ANPP is alleging that the exercise was marred by irregularities, the tribunal said.
JusticeKasali subsequently also awarded a N50, 000 costs in favour of each of the four respondents dragged before the tribunal, the PDP,Mr. Kwankwaso, INEC and the Electoral Officer who oversaw the conduct of the election.
The court of Appeal, sitting in Kaduna in December 2011, toed the same line as the tribunal and dismissed the case when it came up for appeal.
Delivering the lead judgement Justice Muhammad Garba said the issues raised in the appeal were against the appellant and in favour of the respondent.
He noted that the appeal lacked merit, adding that the appellant failed to file his appeal within the mandatory 60 days specified by the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
“With this, I hereby dismiss the appeal, because it lacked merit to be entertained,” he said.
The judge held that the appeal was filed out of time, saying the appellant had the judicial right to file his case, but that since it was not filed within the time allowed, the court had no option than to dismiss it and award N50, 000 against the appellant.
In the case of CPC’s quest to oust governor Aliyu from office, the party and its candidate, Mr. Shettima had approached the election tribunal sitting in Minna under the headship of Justice Pascal Nnadi requesting it to declare the election of Mr. Aliyu as null and void due to widespread irregularities.
However, delivering judgement in November 2011, Justice Nnadi ruled that the petitioners failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt as required by the law all the allegations raised in their petition.
According to the tribunal, the evidence presented was classified as hearsay, stressing that hearsay was not admissible in law.
The tribunal also ruled that though it was evident that there were incidences of irregularities during the election in 19 local government areas of the state as alleged in the petition, the degree of such irregularities cannot affect the valid lawful votes of the electorates.
The tribunal therefore, dismissed the appeal and declared Mr. Aliyu as validly elected.
The judge dismissed the appeal for lack of merit and said the petitioner had failed to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt.
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