The Court of Appeal in Abuja will deliver its judgement, today (Friday), on the disputed Kano State governorship election.
Abba Yusuf, the incumbent governor, who had won the governorship election on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), is locked in a fierce legal battle with Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC), over the outcome of the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Mr Yusuf as the winner of the 18 March election with 1,019,602 votes against Mr Gawuna’s 890,705 votes.
Mr Yusuf had ridden on the popularity of a former governor of the state, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and his political machinery, the Kwankwasiya Movement, to defeat Mr Gawuna of the then ruling APC in the state
But Mr Gawuna challenged the election outcome at the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
In a unanimous verdict on 20 September, a three-member panel of the tribunal set aside Mr Yusuf’s victory after declaring 165,663 of his votes invalid.
Therefore, the lower tribunal declared Mr Gawuna, who turned out to have the highest number of votes after the deduction from Mr Yusuf’s score, as the lawfully elected candidate.
However, the governor appealed against the tribunal’s decision at the Court of Appeal, which is set to deliver its decision today.
The Court of Appeal’s decision will not be the final, as whoever is aggrieved with the outcome can still appeal to the Supreme Court.
Owing to the tension the case has generated in the densely populated Kano, the authorities of the appellate court moved its panel to Abuja for the hearing and determination of Mr Yusuf’s appeal.
As the Court of Appeal delivers its decision on the appeal today, tension is already brewing around the headquarters of the appellate court in Abuja.
PREMIUM TIMES is on the ground to monitor the proceedings from the courtroom and will provide live updates below as the judgement is being delivered.
10:58 am: Justice Adumein begins reading the lead judgement.
The tribunal acted in the overall interest of justice. INEC released electoral documents to the Mr Gawuna in piecemeal in order to defeat the ends of justice
11: 18 a.m: The judge says the appellant’s complaint that Mr Gawuna was not properly joined as a party in the petition at the tribunal lacks merit.
He says both a candidate and political party can jointly file a petition.
11: 20 a.m: the judge says the APC was right to have filed the petition on behalf of Mr Gawuna.
11:22a.m: The court says Mr Gawuna wad an unnamed party in the appeal; the APC filed the petition on his behalf.
1:23 a.m: It is of profound importance that parties are bound by their pleadings
In this case, the tribunal acted on the evidence presented by the APC, the judge says.
11:26 a.m: The judge evaluates the tribunal’s reasoning, including
165,000 invalid votes credited to Mr Yusuf.
11: 28 a.m: The appellant’s grounds regarding the virtual delivery of the tribunal are of infinitesimal importance.
11: 29 a.m: In this case, the exhibits complained of by Mr Yusuf go to no issue.
The tribunal rightly expunged some of the appellants evidence from its records as the appellant failed to properly file the said exhibits.
The tribunal duly evaluated the evidence before it.
11: 37 a.m: Speaking on non-qualification of Mr Yusuf, the judge cites Section
177 of the constitution which he says provides that membership of a political party is sine qua non for anyone to contest the governorship election in Nigeria.
The judge says Mr Yufuf tendered the NNPP membership registrar.
11:42 a.m: At the tribunal, the appellant (Mr Yusuf), to his detriment, omitted the tendering of his membership card of the NNPP, the judge says.
11: 44 a.m: If you claim you are a member of a political party, is it not logical for you to say so by yourself instead of a proxy? The judge wondered about Mr Yusuf’s genuine membership of the NNPP.
11:45 a.m: Citing a decision of the Supreme Court, the Justice Adumein said that courts will not allow a political party to act arbitrarily.
11: 47 a.m: Judges screams at party supporters attempting to leave the courtroom.
11: 49 a.m: Any act which infringes on the Nigerian constitution is deemed unconstitutional.
11:50 a.m: Crowd attempts to breach security at the court.
Security operatives are battling to ward off restless crowd of party supporters.
The tribunal made some profound findings
11:53 a.m: Yufuf Abba was not a member of the NNPP as of the time he was purportedly sponsored on 18 March for the Kano State Governorship election, the judge says.
The tribunal was wrong not have disqualified the appellant, Governor Yusuf, the court says.
11: 55 a.m: The judge says, the failure of NNPP to properly sponsor Mr Yusuf according to Section 177(c) of the constitution is fatal to their case. A person must be a member of a political party before he can be sponsored for an election.
I will conclude:All the nine issues are hereby resolved against the appellant, the judge holds.
This appeal is hereby dismissed, the judge says.
N1 million is awarded as cost against Governor Yusuf.
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