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Tension as Sanwo-Olu, Yusuf, four other govs await fate as S’Court rules in suits seeking to remove them



Tension as Sanwo-Olu, Yusuf, four other govs await fate as S’Court rules in suits seeking to remove them

The governors of Lagos, Kano, Cross River, Ebonyi, Plateau and Zamfara states are waiting with bated breath as the Supreme Court delivers judgment on the 2023 governorship disputes today.

Ripples Nigeria reports that hearing notices from the Supreme Court have been issued and served on parties.

This is just as the apex court, on Thursday, reserved judgments on the appeals involving the governorship election in Abia, Delta, Ogun and Nasarawa states.

Security has been beefed up in and around the Supreme Court premises and across the affected states ahead of the judgment.

Though the governors and their supporters in the seven states are waiting, with some tension, the situation in Kano and Plateau states are, however, a different kettle of fish, as widespread protests and discontent greeted the earlier verdicts of the Appeal Court on the governorship disputes of the states in December.

Ripples Nigeria recalls that the Supreme Court had last December reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Governor Abba Yusuf challenging the verdict of the Court of Appeal and the state Election Petitions Tribunal, which removed him from office.

The five-member panel led by Justice John Okoro reserved judgment after the parties adopted their brief of arguments canvassed for and against the appeal.

It will also be recalled that in September, the Kano Governorship Election Tribunal nullified the victory of Yusuf, candidate of the New Nigeria’s Peoples Party (NNPP) and affirmed Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor.

Read also: Kano braces for uncertainty as Supreme Court decides governor’s fate

The Appeal Court, on November 13, upheld the verdict of the tribunal, as it agreed with the judgment of the tribunal, ruling that the fielding of Yusuf was in breach of the Electoral Law as he was not qualified to contest the election. But the governor proceeded to the Supreme Court to seek redress.

For Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s election was affirmed by the Appeal Court, Lagos Division in November 2023, agreeing with the judgment of the tribunal that confirmed his return as governor.

In a unanimous judgment, the Justices of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) for lack of merit.

Not satisfied, the candidate of the Labour Party candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abdulazeez Adediran approached the Supreme Court.

For Plateau State, the Supreme Court, on January 9, 2024, reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Governor Caleb Mutfwang urging it to uphold his election.

According to the governor, he was not given a fair hearing by the Court of Appeal, therefore its decision to nullify his election was manifestly flawed.

Ripples Nigeria reports that the Court of Appeal, on November 19, sacked the governor and declared the governorship candidate of the APC, Nentawe Yilwatda, winner. Mutfwang faulted this and asked the Supreme Court to restore his mandate.

For Bauchi State, the election of Governor Bala Mohammed was, in November 2023, upheld by the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court.

The appeal was filed by the APC candidate, Sadique Abubakar, following the tribunal judgment that affirmed Mohammed’s victory.

The panel of three justices was unanimous, awarding no cost as the court ruled that each party to the matter should bear their costs.

Ripples Nigeria recalls that in November 2023, the Appeal Court nullified the election of Governor Dauda Lawal.

Lawal, candidate of the PDP, was declared winner to unseat the then incumbent, Bello Matawalle of the APC. According to INEC, Lawal polled 377,726 votes while Matawalle scored 311,976 votes.

However, Matawalle, now Minister of State for Defence, had 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 a N500,000 fine against the petitioners.

Not satisfied, Matawalle took the matter to the Court of Appeal, to challenge the decision of the lower court. Respite came for Matawalle as the three-member panel led by Justice Oyebisi Folayemi, nullified the return of Governor Lawal.

Justice Sybil Nwaka ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas where elections were not held previously or where results from various polling units were not counted. But the governor proceeded to the apex court to seek redress.

For Ebonyi State, the Appeal Court, in Lagos, affirmed the election of APC’s Francis Nwifuru as the duly elected governor.

The three-member panel presided over by Justice Jummai Sankey, in its unanimous decision, dismissed the appeal filed by PDP’s Chukwuma Odii and upheld the earlier verdict of the tribunal but the PDP candidate approached the apex court to seek redress.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday reserved judgment in the Ebonyi State governorship election appeal.

For Cross River State Governor, Senator Bassey Otu of the APC, today’s verdict of the Supreme will either seal his victory or send him packing.

It will be recalled that Appeal Court, Calabar Division had dismissed the appeal filed against him by the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Sandy Onor

Senator Onor had approached both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal, insisting that Otu must be disqualified from the race for allegedly holding dual citizenship, certificate forgery, and not being a member of the APC as of the time of the election.

But the two lower courts dismissed the PDP case and agreed with the governor’s counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, that the PDP cannot challenge the governor on the grounds of party sponsorship and nomination because they were not aspirants during the APC governorship primaries.

At the hearing on Thursday, Dr. Joshua Musa, asked the apex court to set aside subsisting judgments of the courts below for being perverse.

Aside the anxiety in the camps of the governors and their challengers, Kano and Plateau states have been under security alert going by reactions that trailed the verdicts of the Appeal Court on the governorship disputes. Expectedly, security agencies have been on the alert to forestall any breakdown or law and order.

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