The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the elections of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano, Simon Lalong of Plateau and Bala Mohammed of Bauchi States.
At the separate rulings, the apex court led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta in its unanimous decision over the Kano gubernatorial election held that the PDP’s candidate, Abba Yusuf failed to prove that the lower courts were wrong in their earlier judgments dismissing his appeal. The apex court stated that PDP’s case lacked “merit and is hereby dismissed’’.
Speaking on the ground which PDP’s appeal was dismissed, Ganduje’s lawyer, Offiong Offiong (SAN) said: “Abba Yusuf and his team brought a petition alleging that they won the election and scored the majority of lawful votes and that Ganduje did not score the majority of lawful votes. He said the facts they presented tended to show allegation of non-compliance and corrupt practices, so the Supreme Court held that when a person makes an allegation that he won an election, it is not an umbrella which covers every infraction of the electoral act and therefore since the allegation made was not consistent with the petition, there was no basis upon which the tribunal can consider their allegation. It was on this bases the judge affirmed the decision of the tribunal at the Court of Appeal and confirmed Governor Ganduje as the duly elected governor of Kano State”.
Ganduje had defeated Yusuf after a rescheduled election in the State with the APC Candidate polling a total of 1,033,695 as against that of the PDP candidate who scored 1,024,713 votes.
Dissatisfied with the result declared by INEC, Yusuf and his party headed to the tribunal and the Appeal court respectively as the returning officer cancelled results in 207 polling units, declared the election inconclusive and rescheduled another election for March 23, 2019. Ganduje won with only 8, 982 votes.
The Hausa, English Technicality on Documentation
In the Sokoto Gubernatorial appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the victory of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP said the APC candidate, Ahmad Aliyu’s petition was riddled with inconsistencies.
“We lost in Sokoto on the ground that the documents tendered, the date that is on the receipt does not tally with the date the copies were given to the appellant and since the witnesses said there were Hausa versions without corresponding English versions, there was a problem so that is the Supreme Court and we are bound by the judgment. Said Alex Izion, counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC) Gubernatorial candidate in Sokoto State, Ahmad Aliyu.
The APC lawyer, Mr. Alex’s interpretation of the Apex court ruling was also corroborated by INEC’s lawyer, Tanimu Inuwa (SAN) who explained that “The appellant brought witnesses who spoke in Hausa. By law, if your evidence is translated into English from Hausa, you have to provide the two versions of the translated English and that of Hausa so that the witness will adopt it, now the court will have the opportunity to look at the Hausa translation as well as English translation to confirm the rhythm, in this case, they (APC) only brought the translated version of the witnesses so the Supreme Court said no you can’t do that, if you bring only one that is the end of it, you fail to establish your case”.
In the case of Plateau, the apex court agreed with the judgments of lower courts saying Governor Lalong fulfilled the electoral requirements to vie for the office of the governor.
Jerimiah Useni, a retired Lieutenant General in the Army who was the PDP flag bearer had challenged the election of incumbent Gov. Lalong as duly elected governor of Plateau on grounds that he did not win the majority of the votes cast at the poll.
“First of all, let me say that with this judgment, it has rekindled my confidence in the judiciary. I’ve always said the judiciary is the last hope of the common man and the judiciary has exhibited that today and I also want to say that I thank God especially for the journey so far, we started from the trial court, we have reached the apex court and that is God’s work, this one is final and the next thing is the focus for the people of Plateau State”. An elated Lalong said while speaking with newsmen after the Supreme Court judgment.
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State also had his election upheld by the Supreme Court. The court held that the APC Candidate and former governor of the State, Mohammed Abubakar presented inadmissible pieces of evidence.
Reacting to the judgment, Bala Mohammed said “today has really re-affirm my faith in the judiciary of this country and I want to affirm and reinstate that the people of Bauchi who have voted for me unanimously across party lines, I’ll make sure I’ll take them on that basis, to consider them without any differences to make sure I give them good governance.
Debate on Electoral Reform Continues
With controversies trailing the Supreme Court judgments, the debate over legal technicalities and judicial precedence have been rekindled most especially on Nigeria’s electoral reform drive.
“As it is today, the provision of the electoral act is heavily loaded against the petitioner and that is why you see politicians, whenever elections are going on, they just tell their followers, just do anything you do, the important thing is that we must first win when we win, let us meet at the court because they know that the obstacles that are legally and constitutionally mounted against the petitioner are overwhelmed and gargantuan.
So I think beyond this election petitions, the National Assembly needs to take a critical hard look on our electoral reform laws to reform them because we can’t go on like this. We have a situation where governors, where senators, where House of Representative Members, where Councillors, were Chairmen of Local Governments and even where Presidents are being incubated and delivered by the courts to the electorates contrary to the wishes of the Nigerian people”.