Supreme court upholds elections of four governors

The supreme court on Wednesday upheld the elections of four governors.

They are Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Abubakar Bello (Niger).

In Abia, candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Alex Otti, had approached the supreme court, seeking the nullification of Ikpeazu’s victory upheld by the Abia election tribunal.

Lateef Fagbemi, counsel who represented Otti and his party, had asked the court to allow their appeal and nullify Ikpeazu’s election on the grounds of alleged over voting and non-compliance with the electoral act.

However, Paul Galinje, who read the judgment on behalf of the seven-man panel of judges, dismissed the appeal on grounds that the appellants failed to prove their allegations.

Galinje held that the appellants failed to “relate the documents tendered, to the specific areas of their case so that the figures representing over voting if removed, will result in victory for the appellant or render the election a nullity.”

In the case of Taraba, the All Progressive Congress (APC) argued that Darius Ishaku, the governor, was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the election. The party also alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act (2010)

Kanu Agabi who represented Ishaku and the PDP urged the court to dismiss the APC’s appeal for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

Responding to Agabi’s submissions, Ishiaka Dikko, counsel to the APC, while admitting that the party’s candidate was disqualified from the election said the second runner up ought to have been allowed to contest the election.

He urged the court to nullify Ishiaku’s election and order a fresh poll.

Delivering the judgment, the justices agreed that APC did not have a legal candidate at the election due to Danladi’s disqualification.

One of the judges held that the APC’s argument that the second runner up in the primary should have been allowed to contest the election was wrong because Sani Yahaya, did not participate at any stage of the election.

He said APC lacked the locus standi to file a petition in the first place at the tribunal.

The judge held that the appeal was merely academic and a “waste of judicial time”.

In Delta, Great Ogboru and the APC asked the court to nullify the election of Ifeanyi Okowa on the grounds of alleged irregularity and non-compliance with electoral provisions.

Yunus Usman who represented the appellants argued that the votes claimed by Okowa exceeded the total number of accredited voters for the March 9, 2019 governorship election.

However, Damian Dodo, Okowa’s counsel, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for being “incompetent”.

He said the appellants failed to prove all their allegations both at the tribunal and at the court of appeal.

Dismissing the appeal, Justice Centus Nweze, held that the appellants (Ogboru and the APC) failed to prove allegations of over voting.

Nweze said: “the appeal is a share waste of the precious time of the court.”

The apex court also struck out an appeal challenging the election of the governor of Niger.

The appeal which was filed by Umar Mohammed Nasko candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prayed the court to nullify Bello’s election on the grounds that the governor submitted forged documents and gave false information in a form submitted to INEC to for the March 9, 2019 election.

He also argued that the governorship tribunal failed to deliver judgment on the petition within 180 days as specified by the law.

Mary Uwani Abaji, the judge, held that the court of appeal was right in holding that the decision of the tribunal delivered outside the 180 days allowed by law was a nullity.

She, therefore, held that the supreme court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the appeal and consequently struck it out.

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