The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal filed by Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), challenging the judgment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which declared the All Progressive Congress (APC) flagbearer, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, as the winner of the state’s governorship poll held on March 18.
The Independent National Electronic Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced Yusuf as the winner of the March 18, 2023 election, saying he garnered 1,019,602 votes to defeat Gawuna who got 890,705 of the votes cast.
But the APC approached the Tribunal, alleging electoral malpractice.
The Tribunal, agreeing with APC, nullified Yusuf’s election, adding that over 160,000 ballot papers “were not signed or stamped by INEC”.
Yusuf’s votes were subsequently reduced to 853,939 while Ganuwa’s 890,705 votes were not affected.
The three-man panel of the Tribunal led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay sacked Yusuf on September 20, 2023, after deducting 165,663 of his votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome, the governor approached the appellate court.
Abba’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun SAN averred that the Tribunal’s decision against his client was not validly made.
But Counsel for APC, Akin Olujimi SAN, contended that the Tribunal was right to evaluate the evidence placed before in nullifying Yusuf’s election.
The three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice M Adumeh held that the Tribunal acted in the overall interest of justice when it allowed APC to tender documents during trial because INEC released documents to the APC in piecemeal.
The appeal court also held that Olanipekun’s insistence that APC ought to have joined its candidate, Ganuwa, as a party at the Tribunal proceedings, was not backed by the 1999 Constitution as a candidate is entitled to be represented by his political party during litigation.
The court said the appellant to his own detriment did not submit his NNPP membership register or even tender his statement on oath regarding his membership of the party, while noting that every political party shall maintain the register of its voters.
The court however added that the name of Abba is not in the NNPP membership registrar.
(Editor: Anoyoyo Ogiagboviogie)