From Governor Sanwo-Olu to Otu: Governors Reclaimed Seat at Supreme Court Judgement
The Supreme Court recently delivered judgments on various appeals related to the last governorship elections in several states. These elections had been in dispute since March 18, 2023, when gubernatorial elections were held across the country.
With the exception of Kogi, Osun, Anambra, Imo, and Ekiti, other states conducted their governorship elections as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Due to political intricacies, some states’ election results faced contention at the Tribunal panels assigned to hear election cases. The contested states include Lagos, Kano, Zamfara, Ebonyi, Plateau, Abia, Cross River, and Bauchi.
The Supreme Court, as the apex center and the final level of appeal for all governorship election petitions, became the battleground for these gubernatorial appeals. The appeals had initially started at various election petitions tribunals in different states.
Here is a list of governors who retained their seats following Supreme Court judgments:
1. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
– On January 12, 2023, the Supreme Court reviewed the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirmed Sanwo-Olu as the governor of Lagos.
– The petition, led by Abdulaziz Adediran of the PDP and Gbadebo Rodes-Vivour of the LP, challenged Sanwo-Olu’s election at both the state election tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
– The judgment affirmed Sanwo-Olu’s victory based on the argument that there is no constitutional provision stripping a Nigerian by birth of citizenship due to acquiring citizenship in another country.
2. Bala Mohammed
– INEC had declared Governor Bala Mohammed as the winner of the March 18, 2023, gubernatorial election in Bauchi State.
– The appeal, filed by the APC governorship candidate, Sadique Abubakar, challenged the lower court’s appraisal of relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and raised issues of alleged electoral malpractices against INEC and Governor Mohammed.
– After reviewing evidence, Bala Mohammed was affirmed as the governor, and the appeal was declared unmeritorious.
3. Abba Yusuf
– Justice John Okoro overturned the judgments of both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, confirming Abba Yusuf as the governor of Kano state.
– Nasir Gawuna’s appeal alleged forgery of an NNPC membership card by Yusuf and votes manipulation by INEC in favor of the governor.
– The appeal focused on the removal of a certain number of votes from Yusuf’s count, giving Gawuna the lead in lawful votes. The Supreme Court held that the trial court erred in investigating the governor’s membership of the NNPP.
4. Dauda Lawal
– The Supreme Court reviewed the evidence and affirmed Governor Dauda Lawal as the winner of Zamfara state governorship election.
– Bello Matawalle’s petition alleged that the governor did not win the majority of lawful votes cast at the election. The court held that Matawalle failed to provide sufficient evidence, pronouncing Governor Lawal as the election winner.
5. Francis Nwifuru
– Justice Tijjani Abubakar affirmed Governor Francis Nwifuru’s victory in Ebonyi state following an appeal challenging his sponsorship by the APC.
– The appeal, dismissed as unmeritorious, raised concerns about Nwifuru’s qualification to contest the election.
6. Caleb Mutfwang
– Caleb Mutfwang, who initially won the 2023 governorship election in Plateau State, faced challenges from the APC.
– The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, stating that the high court’s order had no bearing on the party’s power to conduct primaries.
7. Alex Otti
– Justice Uwani Abba-Aji upheld the decision of the tribunal, affirming Governor Alex Otti as the governor of Abia state.
– The appeal by PDP and APC was dismissed for lacking merit, as it was deemed a matter for the Federal High Court, being a pre-election matter.
8. Bassey Otu
– An appeal filed by PDP candidate Sandy Onor against Governor Otu of APC in Cross River State was dismissed by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju.
– The appeal, which alleged that Governor Otu forged his secondary school certificate, was deemed a waste of judicial time, and Governor Otu was pronounced as the governor of Cross River State.