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Appeal Court Upholds Election Victory Of Kaduna, Delta, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Ogun, Akwa Ibom Governors

The Court of Appeal has upheld the victory of Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State and his counterparts in Delta and Ebonyi, Sheriff Oborevwori and Francis Nwifuru in the March 18 gubernatorial election.

Ruling on the appeal filed against Uba Sani, a three-member panel of Justices of the Abuja Division of the Appellate court in a unanimous judgment on Friday upheld the decision of the Kaduna State Governorship election Petition Tribunal, which dismissed the petition, filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Isah Ashiru, challenges the victory of Sani, in the gubernatorial poll.

The Tribunal led by Victor Oviawie, had in a virtual judgment delivered via Zoom on September 28,  held that the pre-hearing notice of the PDP and its candidate, were filed out of time and therefore deemed to be abandoned.

The Appeal Court panel however faulted the tribunal which ruled that had the petition not dismissed for lack of merit, it would have ordered a supplementary election in 22 polling units within 90 days in the substantive judgement.

The appellate court held that the tribunal would have be wrong to have taken such decision because it depended on inadmissible evidence.

“A key witness called by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the tribunal hearing merely gave hearsay evidence as he was not present when the malpractices he alleged happened.

“Therefore, the allegations of deduction of votes, stuffing of ballot boxes and mutilation of sensitive electoral materials made by the said witness were born out of hearsay”, the court held.

In a related development, a the three-member panel of the Lagos Division of the Appellate Court, led by Justice Hamma Barka on Friday, upheld the judgment the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which affirmed Oborevwori as the lawful winner of the March 18 governorship election in Delta State.

The court dismissed the three separate appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ovie Omo-Agegeand his counterparts in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, and the Labour Party (LP), Kennedy Pela.

It held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations  of non-compliance with the electoral act. against Oborevwori for lacking in merit.

Meanwhile, the appellate court in Lagos has also affirmed the victory of Francis Nwifuru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the  March 18 gubernatorial election in Ebonyi State.

It dismissed the appeal filed by Chukwuma Odii of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the victory of Governor Nwifuru in the gubernatorial poll.

The three-member panel, led by Justice Jummai Sankey, ruled unanimously that the PDP and its candidate lacked the legal standing to challenge Nwifuru’s nomination as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.

The court also dismissed all five issues raised by the petitioners, declaring Nwifuru’s election valid and upholding his victory.

In Kebbi, another three-member panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, also dismissed the appeal against the declaration of Nasir Idris as Kebbi State Governor.

The three-member led by Justice Ndukwe Anyannwu in their unanimous judgment held that the appeal was devoid of merit, adding that the appellant failed to provide cogent reason why the judgment of the lower tribunal could be voided.

According to the judgment, the Kebbi State Governorship Election Petition tribunal was in order when it held that the Deputy Governor Abubakar Umar Tafida, met the educational threshold for qualification for the position of governor of Kebbi State.

Besides, the appellate court in the whole resolved all the five issues formulated for determination in favour of the governor and against People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and his governorship candidate General Aminu Bande.

PDP and Bande had sought the disqualification of Idris from the governorship election on account of alleged forgery and lying on oath against his deputy but the tribunal in its verdict held that evidence before it showed that the testimonial Tafida submitted in aid of his qualification for the March 18 governorship election was actually issued by his school.

While affirming the judgment of the lower tribunal Justice Anyannwu, further held that the issues of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election could not stand because the appellants failed to proof how the allegations substantially affected the election.

The appellate court subsequently affirmed the judgment of the Kebbi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which had earlier dismissed the petition of PDP and affirmed the election of the Governor Idris.

In a related development, the Lagos Division of the Appellate court, has affirmed the election of Governor Abiodun of the ruling APC as winner of the March 18, poll, in Ogun State.

In a majority judgment delivered by the duo of Justices J.S. Ikyegh and Muhammed Mustapha, the appellate court dismissed the appeal brought before it by the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in the state, Hon. Ladi Adebutu.

The court held that the appeal lacked merit as it found no substance in it and subsequently dismissed it, affirming the earlier decision of the Tribunal without costs.

The Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta had on September 30, 2023, upheld Abiodun’s declaration as the winner of the March 18, governorship election.

Adebutu, dissatisfied, had filed an appeal at the appellate court, challenging the judgment of the election petition tribunal. But his appeal was dismissed by the appellate court in a majority decision of two to one.

The court held that it is a petitioner who bears responsibility to prove that an election was marred by corrupt practices, and that appellants did not so prove.

The court further held that appellants did not prove the allegation of certificate forgery against Governor Abiodun and noted that the Tribunal did not believe the evidence of certain witnesses because of their demeanors and because of the chorused nature of their testimony.

Maintaining that appellate courts generally do not interfere with such assessments, it held that the assessment of the Tribunal was undisturbed.

While upholding the expunging of the evidence of the forensic experts, the court held that there was a huge crater in the petition of the appellants, making same “castrated, sterile, and with no legs to stand on.

“Court followed the principle that when a decision is ultimately correct, it is immaterial that some reasons may have been applied since the appellate courts concern themselves with the conclusions mainly.”

On the issue of disenfranchisement raised by the appellant, the court held that it was the duty of Appellants to prove disenfranchisement by calling voters who could vote but were disenfranchised, adding that in this petition rather, the Appellants did not call any disenfranchised voter. That instead, the appellants called persons who truly voted.

Meanwhile, the appellate court on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan and his Young Progressives Party (YPP), Akanimo Udofia of the APC and Senator John Akpanudoedehe of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), challenging the election of Governor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The court struck out the respective appeals by the three appellants, describing them as lacking in merits.

It ruled that the appellants missed the point by arguing that since they were not parties in the case, the judgment on the certificate matter was not binding on them.

“The declaratory judgment of a competent court is a judgment in rem is binding on the whole world, and not only on those who were parties in the case,” the court held.

Furthermore, the court faulted the abuse of judicial process by the appellants in re-litigating a matter that was dispensed at the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court in favour of the 2nd respondent Pastor Umo Eno Bassey.

Ruling further on the appeal by the YPP governorship candidate, the court also faulted the inability of the appellants to summon witnesses who were at the elections as polling agents, to prove their case of elections irregularities.

The court was of the opinion that Albert and his party only depended on documentary evidences amounting to hearsay, to allege irregularities, without making efforts to bring those who witnessed and took part in the elections at the polling units.

On the local government collation agents that the YPP candidate paraded before the court, it held that, “it is possible to say that the evidence given by Bassey Albert’s witnesses amounted to drama scripts meant to entertain the gallery and not serious statements that could influence the emergence of a Governor.”

The appeal court also dismissed the preliminary objection by Bassey Albert’s counsel, Tunde Falola, and ruled that the briefs filed by the respondents did not violate the Appeal Court practice direction.

Falola had raised objections, arguing that the briefs of argument by the respondents ran more than the number of pages stipulated by the court practice guidelines and should be rejected.

But the court dismissed the objection insisting that the extra pages did not constitute part of the briefs l, but were mere acknowledgment of authorities and addresses of parties.

The court also ruled that the burden of proof in the allegations that the name of the 2nd Respondent was not the same as the names on the 1981 and 1983 WAEC certificates, was on the appellants, adding that they failed to establish the proof.

DIPLOMATIC DIARY

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