S’court af­firms Makinde, Sanwo-olu, el-ru­fai, four govs’ elec­tions

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Ade Ade­s­o­moju, Abuja

THE Supreme Court on Wed­nes­day val­i­dated the elec­tion of Gov­er­nor Oluseyi Makinde of Oyo State and the vic­to­ries of the gov­er­nors of seven other states at the March 9, 2019 gov­er­nor­ship elec­tions held in their var­i­ous states.

A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Jus­tice Mary Peter-odili, in sep­a­rate judg­ments, af­firmed the elec­tions of Gov­er­nors Baba­jide Sanwo-olu of La­gos State, Nasir El-ru­fai of Kaduna State, Udom Em­manuel of Akwa Ibom State, David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Aminu Masari of Katsina State, Dapo Abio­dun of Ogun State and Ab­dul­lahi Sule of Nasarawa State.

While Makinde, Em­manuel and Umahi were of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party, Sanwo-olu, El-ru­fai, Masari, Abio­dun and Sule con­tested on the plat­form of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress.

The panel heard the ap­peals on the gov­er­nor­ship tus­sles from the eight states in two batches on Wed­nes­day.

Af­ter each lap of hear­ing, the mem­bers of the panel re­tired to their cham­bers to pre­pare their judg­ment and re­turned about an hour af­ter to give the sum­mary of their ver­dicts on the ap­peals.

The Oyo State gov­er­nor­ship dis­pute turned out to be the most con­tentious among the ap­peals de­cided by the apex court on Wed­nes­day, as all the par­ties to the case filed sep­a­rate ap­peals against the Novem­ber 11, 2019 judg­ment of the Ibadan Divi­sion of the Court of Ap­peal.

Although, the Court of Ap­peal, had in its split judg­ment of four-to-one sub­stan­tially up­held the case of the APC and its can­di­date in the gov­er­nor­ship poll, Ade­bayo Ade­labu, it re­fused to make any or­der nul­li­fy­ing Makinde’s elec­tion.

There­fore, the APC and Ade­labu, through their lawyer, Aliyu Umar (SAN), had filed an ap­peal against the Court of Ap­peal’s judg­ment, urg­ing the apex court to make a spe­cific or­der nul­li­fy­ing Makinde’s vic­tory at the poll.

Makinde, had also through his lawyer, Chief Wole Ola­nipekun (SAN), filed an ap­peal pray­ing the apex court to set aside the ma­jor­ity judg­ment of the Court of Ap­peal and af­firm the judg­ment of the elec­tion pe­ti­tion tri­bunal, which af­firmed him as the duly elected gov­er­nor of the state.

The PDP, through its lawyer, Nathaniel Oke (SAN), and the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, through its coun­sel, Akin­lolu Ke­hinde (SAN), had also filed sep­a­rate ap­peals against the ma­jor­ity judg­ment of the Court of Ap­peal.

At the hear­ing ear­lier on Wed­nes­day, the apex court de­cided that its de­ci­sion on the ap­peal filed by Makinde would be bind­ing on the rest of the ap­peals on the gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion in the state.

Jus­tice Ejembi Eko, who de­liv­ered the lead judg­ment, over­turned the Novem­ber 11, 2019 judg­ment of the Ibadan Divi­sion of the Court of Ap­peal and re­stored the judg­ment of the Oyo State Gov­er­nor­ship Elec­tion Pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal, which had de­clared Makinde and his party, the win­ner of the elec­tion.

Jus­tice Eko said, “Af­ter go­ing through the briefs of ar­gu­ments, I find merit in this ap­peal.

“The judg­ment of the lower court is mainly based on per­ver­sity.

“The ma­jor­ity judg­ment is hereby set aside.

“The mi­nor­ity judg­ment/ de­ci­sion of the lower court rep­re­sents a more sober re­flec­tion on the is­sues.”

In up­hold­ing El-ru­fai’s elec­tion as Kaduna State gov­er­nor, Jus­tice Cen­tus Nweze, who de­liv­ered the lead judg­ment, dis­missed the ap­peal by Isah Ashiru of the PDP.

Jus­tice Nweze noted that the con­cur­rent judg­ments of both the tri­bunal and the Court of Ap­peal dis­miss­ing Ashiru’s ap­peal could only be set aside if found to be per­verse and con­sis­tent in er­ror.

But he noted that the ap­pel­lants (Ashiru and the PDP) “failed to show the per­ver­sity in the con­cur­rent judg­ments.”

“The is­sue in this ap­peal hav­ing been re­solved against the ap­pel­lant, I find no merit in the ap­peal and I hereby en­ter judg­ment dis­miss­ing the ap­peal,” he ruled.

Up­hold­ing the elec­tion of the APC’S Ab­dul­lahi Sule as the gov­er­nor of Nasarawa State, Jus­tice Mary Peter-odili, who read the lead judg­ment, dis­missed the ap­peal filed by the PDP and its can­di­date, David Om­bugadu.

Jus­tice Peter-odili noted that the APC won in 13 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas, while the PDP won in only one.

She ruled that the ap­pel­lants failed to prove their al­leged case of “non-com­pli­ance af­fected the elec­tion.”

“This ap­peal fails, and it is hereby dis­missed,” she added.

Con­cern­ing the La­gos State gov­er­nor­ship dis­pute, Jus­tice Paul Gal­inje de­liv­ered the lead judg­ments in two ap­peals chal­leng­ing Sanwo-olu’s elec­tion.

In the two judg­ments, Jus­tice Gal­inje held that the ap­peal by the Labour Party and its can­di­date, Prof Ifagbemi Awa­maridi, and the other by the Al­liance for Democ­racy and its can­di­date, Chief Owolabi Salis, lacked merit.

He noted that he had no rea­son to in­ter­fere with the con­cur­rent judg­ments of the tri­bunal and the Court of Ap­peal, which had both dis­missed the ap­pel­lants’ cases.

He added that their pe­ti­tions in­sti­tuted at the tri­bunal were not based on the grounds recog­nised by ei­ther the Con­sti­tu­tion or the Elec­toral Act.

Jus­tice Peter-odili sim­i­larly dis­missed the ap­peal by Adekunle Akin­lade and his Al­lied Peo­ples Move­ment chal­leng­ing the vic­tory of Gov­er­nor Dapo Abio­dun of Ogun State.

She held that the ap­pel­lants failed to prove the al­leged non­com­pli­ance of the con­duct of the March 9, 2011 poll in the state.

In re­spect of the Akwa Ibom State gov­er­nor­ship tus­sle, Jus­tice Dat­tijo Muham­mad, who read the lead judg­ment, up­held Em­manuel’s elec­tion af­ter dis­miss­ing the ap­peal by Nsima Ekere and his party, the APC, for lack­ing in merit.

Jus­tice Amina Augie, who de­liv­ered the lead judg­ments in re­spect of the Ebonyi and Katsina gov­er­nor­ship tus­sles, up­held the elec­tions of the gov­er­nors of the two states.

She dis­missed the pe­ti­tion filed by the Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Move­ment and his can­di­date, Chief Ajah Arua, as he held that they failed to prove that they were validly nom­i­nated to par­tic­i­pate in the elec­tion, not to talk of prov­ing that they were un­law­fully ex­cluded from the poll.

Up­hold­ing Masari’s elec­tion as Katsina State gov­er­nor, Jus­tice Augie dis­missed the pe­ti­tion filed by the PDP and its can­di­date, Garba Lado.

Photo: Ondo State Gov­ern­ment

•L-R: Aare Ona Kakanfo, Chief Gani Adams; Ondo State Com­mis­sioner for Cul­ture and Tourism, Mr Yemi Olowolabi; and Gov­er­nor Ro­timi Ak­eredolu, at the open­ing cer­e­mony of Ondo Arts and Cul­ture Fes­ti­val in Akure, Ondo State ...on Wed­nes­day.

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