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How Kano governor escaped the Supreme Court’s sack

The election of Abba Yusuf, governor of Kano State, has been affirmed by the Supreme Court on Friday.

Governor-Abba-K.-Yusuf-of-Kano-State. Photo Credit: Daily Nigerian
Governor-Abba-K.-Yusuf-of-Kano-State. Photo Credit: Daily Nigerian

The election of Abba Yusuf, governor of Kano State, has been affirmed by the Supreme Court on Friday.

The election petition tribunal and the appeal court nullified his election in their judgement in the cases filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate in the Kano governorship election, Yusuf Gawuna.

In March last year, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Yusuf of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) as the winner of the election. The Kano governor scored 1,019,602 votes to defeat Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 890,705 votes.

Delivering its verdict on the governor’s appeal on Friday, a panel of Justices of the apex court led by Inyang Okoro unanimously took a different direction from the decisions of two lower courts sacking Mr Yusuf from office as the governor of the State.

In what appeared like a judicial u-turn, the Supreme Court restored NNPP’s votes that were cancelled by the lower courts on the account of unsigned ballot papers.

In October last year, after defeat at the lower court, Governor Yusuf went ahead to hire the renowned legal luminary, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) to regain his mandate and retain his seat as Kano State Governor.

How the Supreme Court Ruled on Kano Governor’s Appeal

According to Justice Okoro, one of the main issues is whether the lower court was right to have cancelled 165,616 votes that were ascribed to Governor Yusuf.

Also, the justice called attention to the court to note the question of whether the lower court was correct in assuming jurisdiction on the issue of membership of the governor of NNPP.

After the reviews of the arguments of lawyers representing parties in the case, the justice began its ruling.

“I have found that the decision of the tribunal to deduct 165,616 votes from the Governor’s results was based on provisions of the  Electoral Act 2022,” Justice Okoro says.

Justice Okoro opined that it must be proven that a ballot paper was not the one deployed for the conduct of the election.

“There is no proof that the said ballot papers were not the ones used at the election. Thus the decision of the Court of Appeal affirming the decision of the tribunal ought to be set aside,” Justice Okoro said.

“Finally, the lower court wrongly misconstrued its evaluation of the ballot papers. This amounts to perversion. Accordingly, all the ballot papers are restored to Governor Yusuf,” the Judge added. 

Ruling on the issue of Governor Yusuf’s membership of the NNPP, Justice Okoro reviewed the contention of lawyers and said “This issue questions the NNPP membership of Mr Yusuf”.

The APC and its governorship candidate Gawuna had argued that Governor Yusuf’s election ought not to have been sponsored by the party for the 18 March election.

“The tribunal never held that Governor Yusuf was not qualified to vie for election as erroneously held by the Court of Appeal. The issue of nomination is exclusively the internal affairs of a political party. Therefore, it is not justiceable,” the judge ruled

The judge continued, “Section 177 (c) of the Constitution only frowns on independent candidates and nothing more. The court below erred in law by investigating the governor’s membership of the NNPP.

“In conclusion, judges should be more meticulous. There is merit in this appeal. And the appeal is hereby allowed. The appellant won the majority of lawful votes. The judgement of the lower Court voiding the election of the Appellant is hereby set aside,” Justice Okoro declared.

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