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The Supreme Court will on Friday, decide the fates of five governors, whose elections had been under litigation for the past nine months.
The apex court had reserved judgement in the various appeals against the elections of the governors shortly after arguments were concluded by their respective lawyers in the separate cases.
The five states, whose governorship appeals will, by law, expire between January 21 and 22 are Nasarawa, Delta, Gombe, Kebbi, and Ogun.
In Nasarawa State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the March 18, 2023 governorship election, Hon. David Ombugadu, had approached the apex court to set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which nullified the judgement of the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, declaring him winner of the governorship poll in the state.
The appellants, through their team of lawyers, led by Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, submitted that the appellate court erred in law in reversing the decision of the tribunal.
Agabi, subsequently, prayed the apex court to “allow the appeal, set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal, and restore the judgement of the tribunal,” which declared his client winner of the election.
The senior lawyer stated that the Court of Appeal unjustly nullified the tribunal’s judgement and unjustly declared Governor Abdullahi Sule winner of the March 18 governorship election.
Agabi specifically asked that the Supreme Court should allow the votes of Nasarawa State people to count and be meaningful by declaring PDP and Ombugadu winners as rightly done by the tribunal.
However, Sule, his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through their respective lawyers, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking merit.
After taking arguments from lawyers, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun announced that judgement had been reserved and the date for its delivery would be communicated to parties.
In the Kebbi case, PDP and its candidate, Aminu Bande, urged the apex court to allow their appeal and set aside the concurrent judgements of the Court of Appeal and the election tribunal, which affirmed the election of Nasir Idris of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Kebbi State Governor.
The respondents’ counsels, however, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking merit and uphold the judgements of the lower courts that upheld the election.
In Delta State, three candidates, who participated in the March 18 governorship poll, had been seeking to unseat Sheriff Oborevwori as governor of Delta State. They include Kenneth Gbagi of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of APC, and Ken Pela of Labour Party (LP).
INEC had declared Oborevwori of PDP winner of the March 18 governorship election in Delta State.
Not satisfied, the three separate appellants went to the governorship election tribunal to challenge PDP’s victory. However, the tribunal dismissed the various petitions for lacking in merit, just as the appellate court held that Oborevwori was lawfully elected governor.
Still not satisfied, the individual appellants approached the Supreme Court to nullify the election of Oborevwori, conduct a fresh election, or declare them winner of the governorship election. At the end of arguments by lawyers representing parties in the appeal, Justice John Okoro announced that judgement had been reserved.
In Ogun State, the PDP candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu, is seeking to unseat Governor Dapo Abiodun of APC.
Adebutu’s lawyer told the apex court that the case of the appellants was misconceived at the lower courts, adding that evidence were presented before the tribunal to prove that results from 99 polling units with votes of over 40,000 were cancelled.
He argued that the said 40,000 votes were far more than the margin of 13,000 votes between Abiodun and Adebutu.
He submitted that INEC was wrong to have gone ahead to declare results of the March 18 governorship election in Ogun State, when the issue of cancelled votes in 99 polling units had not been resolved.
However, all the respondents, citing Section 179 of the 1999 Constitution, argued that the election of a governor could not be challenged on grounds of margin of lead.
Okoro announced that judgement had been reserved, after taking all submissions from parties.
In the case of Governor Muhammad Yahaya of Gombe State, little respite came his way Thursday as the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by the candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Nafiu Bala, for lacking in merit. A five-member panel of the apex court led by Kekere-Ekun dismissed the appeal, shortly after it was withdrawn by the appellants.
Meanwhile, the apex court adjourned to Friday for judgement in the other appeal filed by Jibrin Barde of PDP. The panel fixed today for judgement after parties adopted and argued their briefs of argument in the appeal, which expires on Sunday, January 21.(www.naija247news.com)