Kano Electoral Tribunal : Supreme Court Reserves Judgement on Gov Yusuf’s Appeal

Kano Governorship Appeal:

Supreme Court Reserves Judgment

Ann on Cam: The supreme Court has reserved judgement in an appeal filed by the Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, challenging the verdict of the Court of Appeal which removed him as governor of the state.

Hearing on the appeal of Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) commenced with the five-member panel of justices headed by Justice John Okoro stating that there are nine pending appeals before it.

The Court therefore urged counsels involved in the matter to meet and agree on which of the nine appeals and cross appeals that should be heard, with the outcome binding on the remaining eight.

When the panel resumed after a brief recess, a consensus was reached to make the main appeal, that of Yusuf challenging the election, while the cross-appeals such as that questioning the membership of Abba Yusuf, will abide with the outcome of the main appeal.

Wole Olanipekun, counsekf for appellant asked the five-man apex court panel led by Justice Inyang Okoro to determine whether or not, the guidelines of INEC will be a basis for nullifying the election victory of his candidate who won the election by a margin of over 100,000, noting that this is the first time in the annals of electoral jurisprudence where an election was nullified on the grounds that ballot papers were not signed or stamped at the back.

Olanipekun stated that INEC guidelines does not envisage that the courts would nullify an election on the basis of INEC purportedly failed to stamp ballot papers on the back.

Olanipekun also avared that Yusuf’s membership of the NNPP is a pre-election matter and authentic and the appellate court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter

The Counsel for APC, Akin Olujimi however maintained that the Electoral Act mandates INEC presiding officers to sign the back of ballot papers after the conclusion of the election, stating that the findings of the tribunal were simply that the ballot papers were not signed at the back, and not dated.

On the issue of party membership, Olujinmi argued that the NNPP membership register did not show the name of Abba Yusuf on it.

Counsel for INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud, supported the arguments of Olanipekun, submitting that the decisions of the lower courts were flawed, as the testimony of a subpoenaed witness(PW32) which the tribunal relied on to sack Abba Yusuf, were not frontloaded along with the petition at the tribunal, contrary to the Electoral Act.

Mahmoud stated that it was not the duty of a voter to check if ballot papers were signed or not, but that of the party agents, noting that the tribunal went far beyond its powers in vetting each of the ballot papers in their chambers and not in open court.

Mahmoud contended that membership is clearly an internal affairs of a political party and Abba Yusuf’s name was forwarded to INEC prior to the election while his party membership card was tendered in evidence at the tribunal.

Counsel for the NNPP, Adegboyega Awomolo noted that ballot papers were actually cast at the polling units but the APC legal team did not specify the polling units affected at the Tribunal in line with rules of court, stating that ballot papers not signed ought not to affect the validity of an election.

Awomolo insisted that the Tribunal was wrong to recount the ballots in its chambers, as not a single witness told the Tribunal that ballot papers were not stamped.

He however urged the apex court to restore the 165,165 cancelled votes of Abba Yusuf and affirm his election.

After listening to parties, the apex court reserved its judgement on the governor’s appeal.

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