The Court of Appeal in Abuja has postponed its verdict on an appeal filed by Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, who is challenging his removal by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal. The Tribunal had invalidated Governor Yusuf’s election on September 20, alleging that 165,663 of his votes were invalid because the ballot papers lacked signatures and stamps from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
A three-member panel led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay had ruled in favor of the APC candidate, declaring him the winner of the governorship election.
In response to this decision, Governor Yusuf appealed the Tribunal’s verdict and urged the Court of Appeal to overturn the judgment. During the hearing of the appeal on November 6, the lead counsel for the appellant, Wole Olanipekun, argued that the Tribunal had set a new precedent by nullifying an election due to unsigned and unstamped ballot papers. He also contended that the tribunal incorrectly referred to section 71 of the Electoral Act in its judgment, which pertains to electoral forms and sum sheets, not ballot papers.
Furthermore, Olanipekun noted that this was the first time a political party had filed a case without including its candidate as a party in the petition, resulting in the candidate being declared the winner.
Olanipekun urged the Court of Appeal not to uphold the lower court’s judgment.
In response, the lead counsel for the first respondent, Akin Olujuimi, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the appeal, emphasizing that the Tribunal’s decision was not creating a new jurisprudence but rather adhering to established precedents regarding INEC regulations.
Olujuimi also argued that the wrong reference to section 71 should not impact the validity of the decision. He claimed that votes were cast for the party in an election, and any decision affecting a political party encompasses all its members.
In a cross-appeal by the APC, Olujuimi contended that the Kano State governor was not a member of the NNPP when the party sponsored him.
Counsel for INEC, A.B Mahmoud (SAN), asked the Court of Appeal to reject the APC’s cross-appeal, stating that it lacked merit. Mahmoud argued that the Tribunal’s decision went beyond its scope, as the Electoral Act does not permit the tribunal to undertake such scrutiny or recount.
The APC’s counsel, Offiong Offiong, requested the court to reject the appeal, asserting that a trial court has the authority to scrutinize the documents presented as evidence.
The Court of Appeal has postponed its decision on this appeal, with the case drawing significant attention due to its potential impact on the election jurisprudence.