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Supreme Court affirms victories of Bauchi, Plateau, Zamfara, Ebonyi governors


Supreme Court affirms victories of Bauchi, Plateau, Zamfara, Ebonyi governors

The Supreme Court has affirmed the victories of Governors Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau, Dauda Lawal of Zamfara and Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi.

The apex court confirmed the Governors’ electoral triumph during a sitting on Friday, 12th January 2024.

The former Governor of Plateau State and senator, Simon Lalong, was also spotted in the court room for the make or mar verdict.

As expected, the governors arrived the court room with a retinue of followers who were however turned back immediately after escorting their principals into the court room.

The court room was filled with lawyers, journalists and accredited political party leaders.

It could be recalled that Governor Yusuf of Kano State, and his party, the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), had filed an appeal against the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which had affirmed his sacking as earlier pronounced by the Kano State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.

Zamfara State

In the case of Zamfara State, the apex court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal Abuja, which earlier declared the Governorship Election as inconclusive and ordered a re-run in three Local Government Areas of the state in November.

Governor Lawal was declared the winner of the March 18 governorship election, defeating then-incumbent Bello Matawalle of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by polling a total of 377,726 votes. Matawalle scored 311,976 votes.

Matawalle accused INEC of subverting his victory at the poll by failing to include the results of some ward areas. In an earlier ruling on September 18, the Zamfara Election Petitions Tribunal held that the petition was devoid of merit. While upholding Lawal’s victory, the tribunal awarded the N500,000 fine against the petitioners. Unsatisfied, Matawalle took the matter to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, to challenge the decision of the lower court.

The appellate court presided by three-member panel led by Justice Oyebisi Folayemi, nullified the return of Governor Lawal as the winner of the governorship poll.

Justice Sybil Nwaka ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas of the state, where elections had not been held previously or where results from various polling units were not counted.

However, Lawal proceeded to the Supreme Court to seek redress, which has accorded him the victory as the duly elected Governor of Zamfara State.

Plateau State

The court of appeal in Abuja on November 19, 2023 sacked Mutfwang as governor of Plateau State. The appellate court held that the PDP violated the court order and ordered that a valid congress be conducted in the 17 Local Government Areas of the state.

The court said the party conducted congress in only five LGAs of the state “which amounted to a nullity.”

But a five-member panel led by Justice Emmanuel Agim reversed the decision of the appellate court for being perverse because the issue of the primary election that produced Mutfwang was outside the jurisdiction of the lower court.

The court pointed out that the validity of nomination and sponsorship is not a valid ground to void an election.

He held that the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction to entertain it, besides the issue of sponsorship has elapsed long ago, adding that the petitioners not being members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot challenge the party’s primary election.

Justice Agim further stated that the issue of primary is an internal matter of political parties which both the Tribunal and Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction.

Agim also pointed out that contrary to the claim of the petitioners and the judgment of the appellate court the order of the Plateau High Court was not disobeyed by the PDP as evidence showed that a fresh primary was conducted.

Mutfwang of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 525,299 votes to defeat the All Progressives Congress candidate, Nentawe Yilwatda, who scored 481,370 votes during the 18 March governorship poll.

Ebonyi State

Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by Chukwuma Odii of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for lacking in merit.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos had earlier affirmed the election of Nwifuru as the duly elected governor of Ebonyi State in the March 18 governorship election.

The three-member panel presided over by Justice Jummai Sankey, in its unanimous decision, dismissed the appeal filed by Odii and upheld the earlier verdict of the tribunal.

Sankey held that the PDP and its candidate lacked the legal right to meddle in the internal affairs of the APC as it relates to the nomination of candidates.

INEC had declared Nwifuru as the winner of the March 18 poll in Ebonyi State, with 199,131 votes. He had defeated Odii who scored 80,191 and Ben Odo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) who got 52,189 votes.

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