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Supreme Court to deliver judgments of seven states’ governorship disputes today

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Supreme Court to deliver judgments of seven states’ governorship disputes today

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The Supreme Court has scheduled judgments for today, January 11, on appeals in the governorship disputes in eight states.

The states are Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Zamfara, Bauchi, Cross-River and Ebonyi states.

The Nation learnt on Thursday that notices of the impending judgments have been sent to parties in the appeals.

The court on December 19 heard and reserved judgments in two appeals filed by Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, candidate of the Labour Party (LP), and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Azeez Adediran against the election of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The appeals by Rhodes-Vivour (SC/CV/1152/2023) and Adeniran (SC/CV/1155/2023) are against the earlier judgments of the Court of Appeal in Lagos, which affirmed the two decisions of the election tribunal dismissing both appellants’ petition, challenging Sanwo-Olu’s victory in the last governorship election

On December 21 the apex court heard and reserved judgment in the appeals filed in respect of the dispute over the last governorship election in Kano State in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returned Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) as the winner.

Nine appeals and counter-appeals were filed in all. But, in December 21 when the appeals were called, a five-member panel of the court presided over by Justice John Okoro elected to hear the main appeal filed by Yusuf, marked: SC/CV/1179/2023.

The court said its decision in the appeal heard is to be applied to others because the issues are similar.

Yusuf is, by his appeal, seeking to upturn the November 17 judgment of the Court of Appeal, which affirmed the September 20 decision of the election tribunal voiding his victory in the March 18 election.

On January 9, the apex court heard and reserved judgment on the appeals filed in respect of Plateau State.

Three appeals were filed in respect of Plateau State, while the same number was filed about Delta State.

Out of the three filed in respect of Plateau, the court heard the one filed by Governor Caleb Mutfwang (SC/CV/1190/2023), with an agreement by parties that the decision in the one heard shall be applied to the appeal filed by the Governor’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), marked: SC/CV/1191/2023.

The third appeal, filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was withdrawn by its lawyer, Samuel Atung (SAN) when the court made him realise that the other appeals were sufficient to resolve the dispute.

The three appeals are directed against the November 19 judgment of the Court of Appeal, which voided Mutfwang’s election.

On January 11 the apex court the appeal by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last governorship election in Cross River State, Senator (Prof) Sandy Ojang Onor.

In the appeal, marked: SC/CV/1194/2023 Onor is seeking to upturn the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election, Senator Bassey Edet Otu.

Also on Thursday, the Supreme Court reserved judgment on the appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last governorship election in Ogun State, Oladipupo Adebutu.

Adebutu and the PDP are, in their appeal marked: SC/CV/1221/2023 seeking to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which affirmed the election of Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Governor of Ogun State.

A five-member panel of the court, presided over by Justice John Okoro, said it was unnecessary for the court to hear the appeal marked: SC/CV/1222/2023 filed by Abiodun.

While arguing his client’s appeal, Chris Uche (SAN) contended that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ought to have conducted fresh elections in 99 polling units where elections were cancelled and not declared a winner.

Uche argued that the return of the governor by INEC was unlawful.

He added that the election was wrongly concluded, because corrupt practices were allegedly perpetrated during the March 18, 2023 governorship poll.

Lawyer to INEC, Abiodun Owonikoko urged the apex court to dismiss the appeal, arguing that governorship and presidential election are not determined by margin of lead, but by spread of votes, in line with the provision of Section 179 of the Constitution.

Lawyers to other respondents in the appeal, including Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the appeal which challenges concurrent judgments of the Court of Appeal and the election tribunal.

The court also dismissed three appeals that sought to sack Akwa Ibom state governor, Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

During the hearing of the first appeal, filed by Akanimo Udofia and the All Progressives Congress (APC), marked: SC/CV/1230/2023 a seven-member panel, led by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji noted that there was nothing new in the appeal the required the court’s consideration.

The panel said the concurrent judgments by the two lower courts have effectively dealt with the issues raised in the case.

It noted that the tribunal and the Court of Appeal were right in holding that the appellants failed to establish their claims that Eno forged his West African Examination Council (WAEC) result and that he was an ex-convict.

The panel directed the appellants’ lawyer, Hassan Liman (SAN) to withdraw the appeal, which he did, following which the court dismissed it.

The apex court equally dismissed the appeal marked: SC/CV/1230/2023 filed by Bassey Akpan and the Young Peoples Party (YPP) because the plank of the appeal was similar to that of the APC.

The court’s five-member panel, also presided over by Justice Abba-Aji directed the appellants’ lawyer, Tunde Falola to withdraw it, which he did, following which the court dismissed it.

Justice Abba-Aji held that the decision in the appeal by Akpan and YPP shall be applied to the one filed by Senator John Akpan Udoedehe in view of an earlier agreement by lawyers to parties in both appeals.

(The Nation)