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UPDATED: Supreme Court Reverses Sack Of Gov Yusuf, Affirms His Election

The verdict came months after the Court of Appeal upheld the tribunal's decision sacking the Kano governor.


Governor of Kano State, Abba Yusuf
Governor of Kano State, Abba Yusuf

 

The Supreme Court has upheld the election of Abba Yusuf as Governor of Kano State, reversing the decision of the Court of Appeal and the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which sacked the governor.

Justice John Okoro, who read the lead Judgement on Friday, said the Court of Appeal was wrong in affirming the decision of the tribunal which held that Yusuf did not win the majority of lawful votes cast in the governorship election of March 18, 2023.

In determining the case, the apex court raised two issues: whether the lower court was right in deducting 165,616 from the votes the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced for the governor and whether the lower court could determine the issue of party membership.

In the judgement, Justice Okoro held that the tribunal was wrong in deducting 165,616 votes accrued to Yusuf in the election on the grounds that the ballot papers were not signed and stamped by INEC officials.

According to him, Section 71 of the Electoral Act relied upon by the tribunal to deduct the disputed votes does not apply in the instant case.

The Supreme Court panel of five justices, subsequently went ahead to restore the deducted 165,616 votes to reinstate the victory of Yusuf in the governorship election.

On the second issue, the Supreme Court again faulted the Court of Appeal for holding that Yusuf was not a member of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) as of the time he contested the poll, adding that the issue of nomination and sponsorship is a pre-election matter and outside the jurisdiction of the court.

Justice Okoro observed that contrary to the appellate court, the tribunal never held that Yusuf was not qualified to contest the poll but that his name was not in the NNPP’s membership register submitted to INEC.

The apex court subsequently set aside the judgment of the two lower courts for being perverse and restored the electoral victory of Abba Yusuf.

 Yusuf’s Court Of Appeal Sack

Friday’s verdict is coming about two months after a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Moore Adumein, in a unanimous judgement sacked Governor Yusuf and declared Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the exercise.

The Court of Appeal, in addition to that, disqualified Governor Yusuf as a candidate in the election on the grounds that he was not a member of the NNPP as of the time of the election.

The three-person panel would also deduct 165,663 votes from Yusuf’s total votes claiming the votes are invalid because the ballot papers were not stamped or signed.

In its judgement, the court maintained it acted in the public interest when it permitted the APC to tender papers during the trial since INEC had given the APC access to materials piecemeal to undermine the petitioner’s claim.

It also ruled that the 1999 Constitution did not support Yusuf’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun’s contention that the APC should have included its candidate Ganuwa as a party in the tribunal proceedings because a candidate is allowed to be represented by his political party during legal procedures.

According to the court, political parties are required by the 1999 Constitution to maintain a membership register and provide it to INEC and the tribunal upon request.