The Supreme Court seven-man panel chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammad has deferred judgment in the Kano gubernatorial appeal to Jan. 20.
The appeal filed by Abba Kabiru-Yusuf of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is challenging the election of Gov Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State.
Justice Muhammad adjourned after arguments of counsel in the matter.
Kabiru-Yusuf, who was the PDP candidate in the March 9, 2019 election, said having scored the highest votes, he is the candidate that satisfied the provision of Section 179 of the Electoral Act.
Arguing through his lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN), urged the apex court to grant all the prayers in the appellant’s application including setting aside the judgment of the lower courts.
Awomolo in his brief pointed out that the only point of law was the decision and action of the returning officer whom he said that in the exercise of his constitutional powers under section 179, 2 (a) and (b) of the 1999 constitution as amended, and section 69 of the electoral act 2010 and paragraph 41 of the regulation and guideline of INEC even after announcing the results of the 44 local government areas of Kano state, cancelled the results already declared at the polling units.
He also added that the affected results were collated at the wards, local governments and state. Besides, the appellant counsel said that results from 207 polling units were as well cancelled and subsequently declared the election inconclusive as a result of the cancellation.
Further, Awomolo affirmed that it was on the basis of the cancellations that another election was scheduled on March 23, 2019.
The appellant lead counsel, therefore, submitted that for the returning officer to have cancelled the 207 polling units after announcing the overall results of the state amounted to ultra vires and null and void.
He also explained that the declaration of inconclusiveness also amounted to ultra vires of the powers of the returning officer. And the rescheduling of the second election by the returning officer was also null and void.
Awomolo affirmed that the results of the second election on March 23 2019 could not produce lawful votes as the predicated decision was null and void. And that the only lawful votes were those announced by the returning officer on March 11, 2019 in form EC8D.
He, therefore, urged the apex court to allow the appeal on the ground that the appellant scored the highest votes in the election held on March 9, 2019.
But Ahmed Raji, SAN, the respondents’ lawyer asked the panel to dismiss the appeal by Kabiru-Yusuf and PDP.
Raji who appeared for APC argued that there is no evidence that the Returning Officer cancelled votes, but what is on record is the inability of the Returning Officer to collate the election results .
“I therefore urge my Lord to dismiss this appeal and affirm the concurrent findings of the lower courts,” he said.
NAN reports that on Nov 22, 2019 , the Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna State upheld the election of Ganduje as duly elected Governor of Kano State.
The election petition tribunal had upheld the election of Ganduje of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the March 24 supplementary election held in some electoral wards in Kano State.
However, in a unanimous judgment delivered on the petition on Friday, a five-man panel of the court led by Justice Tijjani Abubakar dismissed the appeal by the PDP and its governorship candidate, Abba Yusuf.
The court affirmed the Oct.2, 2019 judgment of the Kano State Governorship Election Tribunal, which had dismissed the petition by PDP and its candidate, challenging Ganduje’s victory at the supplementary election.
NAN reports that the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice Halima Shamaki had in its unanimous judgment on Oct. 2, 2019, dismissed the petition filed by the PDP and Yusuf on grounds that the petitioners failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal also held that INEC was right in declaring the March 9, 2019 election in Kano State inconclusive and also in declaring Ganduje the winner of the supplementary election held on March 23, 2019.
The lower court also said that declaring an election as inconclusive where there are lawful reasons is constitutional.