The Supreme Court will on Friday (today) deliver judgments on the appeals contesting the outcome of the March 18, 2023 governorship elections in Delta, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba States.
In the case of Delta State, the Supreme Court had on January 9 reserved judgment on three separate appeals that seek to nullify the election of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State.
A five-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, decided after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument.
The multiple appeals were filed before the court by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in the governorship poll that was held in the state on March 18, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, as well as candidates of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, and the Labour Party, LP, Mr. Kenneth Gbaji and Ken Pela, respectively.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared that Oborevwori of the PDP polled 360,234 votes to win the governorship election ahead of Omo-Agege of the APC, who secured 240,229 votes.
In their respective appeals, the appellants had urged the Supreme Court to invalidate the November 24 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Lagos State, which dismissed their case for want of merit and affirmed Oborevwori of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the bona fide winner of the governorship contest.
They equally faulted an earlier judgment of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, which on September 29, affirmed Oborevwori’s election.
Omo-Agege, who is the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, contended that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act.
He told the apex court that the results of the governorship election were not properly recorded at some polling units, adding that the forms that contained some of the recorded results did not have serial numbers.
While the SDP candidate, Gbagi, prayed the court to declare that Governor Oborevwori was not eligible to contest the election, his counterpart in the LP, Pela, urged the Supreme Court to nullify the entire election and declare a fresh one.
The Supreme Court said it would communicate the judgment date to all the parties.
The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, January 16, reserved judgment on the appeal challenging the results of the March 18, 2023 governorship elections held in Nasarawa State.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun who led a five-member panel of the apex court, reserved judgment after all the parties had argued and adopted their briefs of argument.
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had on November 23, upturned the tribunal judgment that sacked Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State.
The court held that the tribunal erred in law when it concluded that Governor Sule of the All Progressives Congress, APC, did not win the majority of lawful votes cast in the election.
In the lead verdict that was delivered by Justice Uchechukwu Onuemenam, the appellate court held that the record before it established that the tribunal relied on legally inadmissible evidence to declare the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, David Ombugadu, as the valid winner of the governorship election that was held in the state on March 18.
According to the appellate court, the tribunal wrongly relied on the evidence of eight of the witnesses that were produced by the PDP candidate, whose witness statements on oath were not front-loaded alongside the petition.
It stressed that under Section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Section 132(7) of the Electoral Act 2022, and Paragraphs 4(5) (6) and 14(2) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, every written statement on oath must be filed alongside the petition within the statutorily allocated time.
The appellate court struck out all the evidence and exhibits that were tendered before the tribunal by the eight witnesses.
It held that the evidence of the 12 remaining witnesses who testified for the PDP candidate was not sufficient to sustain the judgment of the tribunal.
More so, the appellate court held that the tribunal was in error when it deducted a total of 1,868 votes that were credited to Governor Sule on the premise that over-voting occurred in four polling units.
It was the findings of the appellate that the tribunal was wrong in its decision since the petitioners did not provide the necessary documents needed to prove over-voting.
It held that the tribunal acted wrongly when it recomputed votes and made the declaration that returned the PDP candidate as the winner of the election.
Consequently, the court vacated the order of the tribunal that directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw the Certificate of Return that was issued to Governor Sule of the APC and issue a fresh one to Ombugadu of the PDP.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the appellate court, the PDP and its candidate approached the Supreme Court to set it aside.
The appellants, on Tuesday, urged the apex court to reinstate the majority decision of the tribunal, which recognised them as valid winners of the gubernatorial poll.
The Supreme Court on Thursday, January 18 reserved judgment on the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and its candidate, Mohammed Ashiru Isa had challenged the outcome of the governorship election held in the state on March 18 won by Governor Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress(APC).
The court of appeal in Abuja had on November 24 last year in a unanimous judgment affirmed the election of Uba Sani as Kaduna state governor.
However, the appellants in their appeal before the Supreme Court ere they alleged that Uba was not duly elected by a majority of valid votes cast in the election.
They contended that the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
The appellants further alleged that some polling unit results were wrongfully cancelled, insisting that there were inconsistencies in accreditation records from INEC.
But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have asked the Supreme Court to ignore the appeal brought before it by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Mohammed Ashiru Isa.
INEC and APC in separate preliminary objections against hearing of the appeal insisted that the petition by PDP and Isa is incompetent and worthless to be considered for adjudication.
At the Thursday’s proceedings, the two respondents drew the attention of the apex court to the findings by the Kaduna State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal to the effect that the petition was not filed in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
Among others, the electoral body and APC maintained that records established that the petitioners acted in breach of Paragraph 18(1) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022, when they prematurely applied to the tribunal for the issuance of a pre-hearing notice.
They explained that the law provided that such application must be filed seven days after the close of pleadings by the parties.
According to them, the law is that a case must be initiated by due process of the law.
They subsequently asked the Supreme Court to turn down any request to attach probative value to the appeal and to either strike out the appeal or dismiss it in its entirety.
INEC and APC were represented by Abdullahi Aliyu SAN and Mohammed Sani Katu SAN respectively.
In the main appeal, governor Uba Sani represented by Chief Bayo Ojo SAN asked the Apex Court to dismiss the appeal for want of merit and substance.
Ojo, a former Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice canvassed that the totality of the case of the PDP and its governorship candidate did not establish the prove of any of their allegations.
The senior lawyer argued that most of the appellants’ witness statements were invalid because they were not filed alongside the petition.
Besides, the former AGF informed the apex court that the witnesses brought by the appellants gave hearsay evidence against the March 18, 2023 election of governor Uba Sani.
He thereafter asked that the appeal be dismissed and that the concurrent findings of the Court of Appeal and the Tribunal which had earlier upheld the election of his client be upheld.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun led panel of five Justices after taking arguments from lawyers announced that judgment has been reserved till a date that would be communicated to parties.
In the case of Taraba, the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and its governorship candidate, Prof Yahaya Sani are challenging the declaration of Governor Kefas Agbu, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the gubernatorial election in the state.
The Court of Appeal Abuja, had affirmed the election of PDP and Kefas Agbu as Governor of Taraba State.
The three-member panel of the appellate court in two separate appeals held that Agbu was lawfully declared the winner of the March 18 governorship election in Taraba State.
A five-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Kudirat Kekere Ekun had on January 17, reserved judgment on the appea after various counsel had adopted their briefs of arguments.
Counsel to the incumbent governor and PDP, Kanu Agabi SAN, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, asked the apex court to either strike out the case of the appellants or dismiss it outrightly.
Agabi told Justice Kekere-Ekun that the case of the NNPP and its governorship candidate was lacking in merit and substance.
He said that the appeal of the appellants was grossly incompetent to be considered because of the several flaws in the way the case was couched and presented at the Apex Court.
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC adopted the arguments canvassed by the governor’s lawyer in resolving the dispute on the governorship election.
Reacting, Olusegun Jolaawo SAN, lead counsel to the NNPP and Sani, appealed to the panel to allow the case of his clients and grant all the reliefs they are praying for.