Supreme Court fixes date to decide Ganduje’s fate

Supreme Court of Nigeria
Supreme Court of Nigeria

The Supreme Court on Tuesday fixed January 20 to deliver judgement in the governorship appeal challenging the re-election of Abdullahi Ganduje as the governor of Kano State.

The apex court, consisting of a seven-member panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN), Tanko Mohammed, gave the date after taking arguments from lawyers in the matter.

The candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abbah Yusuf, is at the Supreme Court, challenging the victory of Mr Ganduje of the All Progressive Congress(APC).Ganduje

Mr Yusuf wants the judgment of the Election Tribunal and Court of Appeal, which reaffirmed Mr Ganduje, to be dismissed.

The Kaduna Division of the Court of Appeal had on November 22, 2019, reaffirmed Mr Ganduje, as duly elected in the March 23 Governorship Election in the state.

The Appellate Court upheld the decision of the tribunal led by Justice Halima Shamaki, who ruled in favour of the All Progressives Congress candidate, Mr Ganduje.

The Court of Appeal five-member panel, led by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, in a unanimous judgment, dismissed the entire petition of the PDP’s candidate and its party for lacking in merit.

The governor had defeated his opponent after a rescheduled election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

On March 24, 2019, the INEC had declared Mr Ganduje winner.

Mr Ganduje scored 1,033,695 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mr Yusuf, who got 1,024,713 votes.

Dissatisfied, the candidate of the PDP and his party approached the Kano State Election Petition Tribunal for election irregularities among other charges.

While delivering its judgement on November 22 in Kaduna, the Appellate Court upheld the verdict of the tribunal.

Justice Tijjani Abubakar in the unanimous judgement, dismissed the petition of the PDP’s candidate for lacking in merit and reaffirmed the governor as the winner of the March 23 elections in the state.

Lawyers argue

In a further bid to retrieve his mandate, the PDP and its candidate approached the Supreme Court.

Appearing before the apex court on Tuesday, the lawyer to Mr Yusuf of the PDP, Adegboyega Awomolo, asked the court to allow the appeal and grant all the appellant’s prayers.

Mr Awomolo noted that the returning officer cancelled results in 207 polling units, declared the election inconclusive and rescheduled another election for March 23, 2019.

Mr Awolowo said the cancellation made by the state returning officer in 207 polling units after announcing the entire results in the state is ultra vires his powers and the declaration of the election as inconclusive is also ultra vires.

According to the lawyer, “Therefore, the result of the second rescheduled election of March 23 is null and void.

“The only lawful votes at the Kano State governorship election were those announced by the returning officer on March 11.

“In conclusion, I urge your lordship to allow this appeal on the grounds that the appellant scored the highest votes at the election of March 9, 20,19 and satisfied section 179 (2) a and b.”

Opposing arguments

But the lawyer representing INEC, Ahmed Raji, urged the court to summarily dismiss the appeal.

Mr Raji said it was not correct that the returning officer cancelled votes. He said the evidence laid did not prove any cancellation.

Also, Mr Duru, the lawyer to Mr Ganduje, said they had addressed all the issues raised in their brief of argument.

Mr Duru said the appellant’s premise, exhibit P1 which is form EC8D, upon which the appellant based his argument, does not contain the results of all the 44 local governments that make up Kano State, contrary to his assertion.

According to him, “the form EC8D does not contain the results of the 207 polling units. Therefore, there was absolutely no way, the returning officer could have declared a winner out of that result.”

Mr Ganduje’s said out of the 207 polling units, 62 polling units were from Gama ward.

“The results from that unit were not collated by relevant officers as agents of the appellant carted away the results, locked himself up in a room with a pen, stayed there for an hour, did not return the results to INEC, but took them to the commissioner of police in the state,” he said.

He said allowing the appeal would mean “sanctioning election violence, giving credit to somebody who has clearly violated the law and admitted the same”.

Mr Duru urged the apex court to dismiss the appeal with a substantial cost of N5 million in their favour.

The APC lawyer, Alex Iziyion, on his part, urged the court to dismiss the appeal.

After taking their arguments, the CJN fixed January 20 to deliver judgement.

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