Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State has been sacked by the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.
The panel upheld the verdict of the tribunal led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay which sacked Yusuf on September 20, 2023.
The lower court had declared 165,663 votes of Yusuf, who contested under the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), invalid on the grounds that they were not signed or stamped by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The governor’s votes were then reduced to 853,939 while those of Nasir Ganuwa, his All Progressives Congress (APC) rival, remained at 890,705.
Yusuf had rejected the tribunal verdict, which he described as “unfair” and “a miscarriage of justice”, and headed to the appeal court.
At the court, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, lead for Yusuf, asked that the judgement of the tribunal be set aside.
Kicking against the ruling on ballot papers, the senior lawyer said that was the first time in the history that a tribunal would annul an election over non-signing of the back of ballot papers.
He had said the tribunal erred, arguing further that, that was the first time that a political party would file a matter without joining its candidate as a party in the petition and the candidate would declared winner of the polls.
But Akin Olujimi SAN, counsel for APC, countered him saying the Appeal Court stated emphatically that the non-signing of ballots amounted to electoral malpractice.
In another development, the Appeal Court, Abuja Division, on Friday, affirmed the victory of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State in the March 18 governorship election.
The appeal was filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Sadique Abubakar, following the tribunal judgment upholding Mohammed’s victory.
The panel of three justices were unanimous, awarding no cost as the court ruled that each party to the matter should bear their costs.
The presiding justice read the judgment in the order of the appellant’s plea before the appeal court.
On plea number one, the appellant pleaded that the election be nullified because the forms and booklets used in the election were not properly filled. The court ruled that the appellant failed to prove this allegation with the needed evidence.
The court also ruled that the appellant failed to state the polling units involved in the said allegations and that he was unable to state what was missing in the forms. It further held that the appellant was unable to prove how the said improperly filled forms affected the results of the election.
The court held that the witnesses called by the appellant were unable to prove that they understood what the forms looked like, while commending the tribunal for doing a thorough job by scrutinising the evidence before it.
On the plea that there was massive non-compliance with the electoral laws, the court ruled that the appellant again could not prove this, as some of the witnesses who testified did not vote on election day and those who voted only spoke based on what they saw in their polling units alone.
On the issue of the alleged unprofessional conduct of INEC officials, the court held the same views as the tribunal, saying it was never part of the plea by the appellant at the lower court and that it was not pleaded and could not be argued.
The plea was ruled in favour of the first respondent, Mohammed.
On the plea about fraudulent cancellations, mutilations and alterations to favour the PDP candidate, the appeal court noted that, if proven, falsification of results is a criminal matter that could lead to the cancellation of election results.
However, according to the court, the appellant had the burden to prove this and had to bring the genuine one, if he argued the one tendered by INEC was falsified.
The court noted that the appellant, unfortunately, could not prove this. The court also said the least the appellant could have done was present a genuine result along with the said falsified one.
Culled from Daily Trust and Channels TV.