Supreme Court affirms elections of 8 state governors
There were celebrations yesterday across some eight states after the Supreme Court delivered its verdicts in the governorship tussles in Kano, Plateau, Zamfara, Lagos, Bauchi, Abia, Ebonyi and Cross River.
The winning and losing political parties and the candidates involved in the governorship contests have in turn, reacted to the judgements either affirming their victories or dismissing their petitions.
The Supreme Court judgements have however raised new posers as it reversed Appeal Court rulings that had sacked governors over the processes that led to their emergence as candidates.
But the Court of Appeal had also sacked lawmakers for the same reasons. The lawmakers, however, didn’t have the option of appealing their sack at the Supreme Court. Some lawyers have reacted to both the decision of the lower courts that sacked lawmakers from Plateau and the Supreme Court ruling that reversed the removal of the state governor.
The Court of Appeal had sacked lawmakers in the state citing irregularities in the process that led to their emergence as candidates of their party.
According to the Electoral Act 2022, electoral disputes in both states and National Assembly terminate at the Court of Appeal, while that of the governors and president is settled by the Supreme Court.
It is noteworthy, that both lawmakers and the governor in Plateau state emerged through the same process as candidates of their party and while the Court of Appeal nullified the election of the lawmakers, the Supreme Court upheld the election of the governor.
Some lawyers who reacted to the development described it as unfortunate.
According to them, while it was the end of the road for the lawmakers, the coast is now clear for the governor to govern the state.
Mr Abdul Balogun, SAN, said the lawmakers will have no choice except to lick their wounds.
“Unfortunately for them, it’s the end of the road. Except the law is amended to accommodate their cases at the apex court, the decision of the Court of Appeal remains final on the matter”, he said.
Barrister Paul B. Oteh, said the development at the Supreme Court calls for a second look of the law as regards election petition cases.
“As far as I’m concerned, the inability of the sacked lawmakers to appeal against their removal robbed them of their mandate. Going forward, we should take another look at the Electoral Act in the area of election petitions”, he said.
Kano, Plateau Rulings
The Supreme Court reversed the sack of Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano state and that of his counterpart in Plateau state, Mr Caleb Mutfwang.
The apex court also upheld their appeal and set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal which removed them from office.
Both Governor Yusuf and Governor Mutfwang were ordered to vacate office on account of irregularities in the conduct of the elections that brought them into office.
Justice Inyang Okoro, who delivered the Kano governorship election tussle restored the mandate of Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State.
The apex court set aside the decision of the Kano state Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, which sacked the governor.
The court said Governor Yusuf was validly elected as Kano state governor.
Meanwhile, men, women and children, yesterday, took to the streets of Kano to celebrate the Supreme Court’s judgement declaring Governor Yusuf as the duly elected governor of the state.
Jubilant residents trooped out on the streets across the metropolis, chanting solidarity songs and dancing with placards and the ruling New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) insignias.
This is just as Jos, the Plateau state capital and its surroundings erupted in jubilation following the Supreme Court judgment that reversed the Appeal Court’s sack of Governor Caleb Mutfwang of the state, yesterday.
At every drinking spot and roundabout in the city centre, Ezra Jinang’s music was heard blasting “Caleb Mutfwang Gida Gida and Prince MK Baagi ‘Sunyi Failing’, while groups of youths were seen dancing to the rhythm.
The PDP’s Secretariat was not left as thousands of party supporters were also seen dancing and jubilating over the victory of Governor Mutfwang at the Supreme Court ruling.
Similarly, associates of the governor who had thronged the premises of the Supreme Court in Abuja, went into wild jubilation as soon as the five-member panel reversed the sacked of the governor by the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, Governor Mutfwang, in his reaction dedicated his victory at the Supreme Court to God and the people of Plateau State, who stood by him and defended their mandate.
In a statement issued by the director of press and public affairs Gyang Bere on Friday, Governor Mutfwang described the affirmation of his mandate as a divine act, and expressed his profound gratitude to God Almighty for sustaining him throughout the electoral process; from the polls to the tribunal, and to the apex court.
He hailed the landmark judgement as a triumph for democracy, noting that the highly respected justices of the Supreme Court corrected the erroneous impression created by the opposition in Plateau State, that the PDP lacked the structure to nominate and sponsor candidates for the 2023 General Elections.
The Governor said, “I want to thank their Lordships who have today restored confidence in the judiciary. Their Lordships have demonstrated courage and they have raised the hope of the ordinary man in Nigeria that justice is still available in the nation.
The APC candidate in the March 18th governorship election in Plateau state, Dr. Nentawe Yitwatda has also reacted to the judgment saying he has accepted the decision with humility and gratitude to God.
The APC governorship candidate in a statement he personally signed and made available to our correspondent in Jos thanked his supporters for their resilience, courage and unwavering belief in the Generation Next Movement.
In his words, “Never before have I seen this bond of organic fraternity and personal sacrifices by supporters in a cause they believe in. This is a testament to why even in the darkest of times, the light of your hope and faith still shines.”
He appealed to the citizens of Plateau and numerous well-wishers to ensure they keep the peace of their state stressing that they should collectively work toward a secure, united, and prosperous Plateau of their dreams because of their resolve to build a cohesive and peaceful community is non-negotiable.
Also, the panel of justices of the court affirmed the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
Justice Mohammed Garba, who read the lead judgement dismissed the appeal filed by Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP) and Mr Azeez Adediran of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
According to the apex court, the appeal of the Labour Party candidate lacked merit and was consequently dismissed.
The court dismissed allegation of dual citizenship of the deputy governor of Lagos State which the appellant relied upon.
Rhode-Vivour had laid claim to the seat currently occupied by Sanwo-Olu of the APC and prayed the apex court to declare him as the authentic winner of the March 18 governorship election in the state.
Rhodes -Vivour expressed reservations over the Supreme Court ruling validating the election of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the duly elected governor of the state.
Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour told our correspondent that, “Today, the Supreme Court set a precedent that a governor or president can have multiple allegiances to states other than Nigeria and still be the chief security officer of Lagos or Nigeria.
“While I submit to this shocking decision of the Supreme Court, I worry for what this precedent holds for future generations being led by leaders with conflict of interest and loyalty.
‘’There is no Liberal Democracy that will accept to be led by an individual who has sworn an oath of allegiance to another country. Citizens should not have to contemplate the loyalty of their commander in chief or the chief security officer of their state. That said, it is as the court pleases.’’
On his next line of action, whether he is contemplating retiring from politics, he said, “Politics is a marathon not a sprint, we will keep being the voice for our teeming supporters, keep engaging Lagosians and keep offering hope to the people of Lagos state.”
The PDP governorship candidate in the last general elections in Lagos State, Jide Adediran popularly known as Jandor said he and his party are disappointed about the apex court ruling on the Lagos governorship election results.
Reacting to the ruling in a statement signed by him, he said the ruling given by the Supreme Court was not the verdict he and his supporters expected.
Adediran who congratulated the state governor Babajide Sanwo-olu, said “This is not the outcome we envisaged or worked so hard for. But I am very proud of the values we share and the vision we hold for our dear state. And for the very robust, vast, diverse, people-centered and rural-network campaign that we built and executed together.
The apex court also declared Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state as the validly elected governor of the state.
The court dismissed the appeal filed by Saddique Abubakar, challenging his election and declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the validly elected governor of the state.
The court said the appeal against his election lacked merit and was dismissed.
Both the tribunal and court of appeal had dismissed Saddique Abubakar of the APC’s appeal against the governor’s election for lacking in merit.
Abubakar contended that several electoral documents used during the poll were not properly filled.
APC gubernatorial candidate in the 18th March 2023 elections in Bauchi state, Ambassador Sadique Baba Abubakar Friday told his supporters in Bauchi that he has accepted the Supreme Court in Abuja in good faith.
Ambassador Saddique Abubakar, while addressing APC members and supporters in Bauchi shortly after the Supreme Court verdict that upheld the election of Governor Bala Mohammed in Abuja, said however that the fasting observed and prayers held in his favour prior to the court judgment would not be in vain.
Reacting to the Supreme Court judgment Friday, the Special Adviser to the Bauchi state governor on Media and Publicity, Mukhtar Gidado Mohammed described his boss’ victory as well-deserved in the 2023 elections as affirmed by the Supreme Court.
This triumph is not just a personal achievement but a testament to Governor Bala’s unwavering commitment to public service and the trust the people of Bauchi state have placed in his leadership.
“Governor Bala’s victory marks a new chapter for the state, filled with promises of progress, development, and prosperity. As you embark on your second term journey, the people of Bauchi can anticipate numerous benefits flowing from your continued leadership”, he said.
Zamfara governor, Dauda Lawal, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), also escaped being sacked by the court as his election was also validated.
The court said the former governor Matawalle failed woefully to establish the allegation of over-voting.
Reacting, Governor Lawal called on the opposition party in Zamfara State to collaborate with his administration on its rescue mission, emphasising that the Friday’s Supreme Court verdict on the State’s 2023 governorship election was a victory for the people of Zamfara.
The apex court had set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which declared the March 18, 2023 Zamfara State governorship election inconclusive.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Sulaiman Bala Idris, Governor Lawal said that the apex court verdict reflected the people’s desire for positive development and progress.
According to him, working together was critical to achieving sustainable state development, saying the success of collective efforts depends on the active collaboration of all stakeholders.
“Let’s prioritise collaboration and work towards a better future for our state.
“I am thrilled to have received affirmation of my election by the Supreme Court today. This verdict will boost our morale in fulfilling campaign promises.”
Governor Francis Nwifuru got the nod of the court as the duly elected governor of Ebonyi state.
According to the court, the appeal lacked merit and was accordingly dismissed.
Justice Tijami Abubakar, who delivered the lead judgement said the appellant failed to substantiate his claim of irregularities in the election.
Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Chukwuma Odii, had dragged the governor before the apex court after the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos affirmed the election of the governor.
The Supreme Court also affirmed the election of Alex Otti as the governor of Abia State in the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
In its lead judgement that was read by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, the apex court held that the appeals of the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Okey Ahiwe, and his counterpart in the APC, Chief Ikechi Emenike, brought before it lacked merit.
The apex court held that there was no legal basis to tamper with the concurrent findings of the Abia State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which earlier upheld Otti’s election.
Abia State governor, Dr Alex Otti has dedicated his Supreme Court victory to God and the people of the state adding that it has renewed his resolve to provide the people with good governance. This was just as he used the medium to appeal to his opponents in the race to sheath their swords and come up with ideas that will bring about positive development to the state.
Otti, who was addressing newsmen shortly after the reaffirmation of the victory yesterday, added that he is now more than ever determined to restore the dignity of the state and the people.
He thanked President Bola Tinubu for remaining firm in his resolve that the judiciary should be independent, noting that his non-intervention in the judiciary has brought about positive results in the country.
“I want to thank His Excellency, President Bola Tinubu for remaining firm to the resolve that the judiciary should be independent. If he did not do that, some of the judgements that were given today may have been different,” he said.
APC, PDP React
APC said it welcomes with equanimity, the Supreme Court decisions on election petitions challenging the outcome of 2023 governorship elections in eight states.
In statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka on Friday night expressed delight that in Lagos, Ebonyi and Cross River States, the Supreme Court upheld the election of governorship Candidates of the ruling party.
Morka, however noted that the appeals on Kano, Zamfara, Bauchi, Plateau and Abia states were decided in favour of other political parties and their candidates.
It said, “The decisions today must serve as a rebuke to political opposition figures that vilified and denigrated our courts when judgments were handed against them in these same matters.
“Assuming that it has any spec of decency left, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) must tender unreserved apology to the courts and our judges for the senseless, irresponsible, reckless and unjustified attacks it mounted against the Judiciary throughout this electoral cycle.
“We congratulate the winners, particularly our Governors, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi State, and Bassey Otu of Cross River State, and wish them the very best as they continue to serve their states and country. We urge everyone to remain calm and continue to maintain the peace,” the statement reads.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has charged governors on its platform to continue in their delivery of people-oriented development programmes and projects in line with the policy thrust, vision and manifesto of the PDP.
The party stated this while congratulating the Governor of Bauchi State and Chairman of PDP Governor’s Forum, Sen. Bala Mohammed, Governors Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State and Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State over the judgments of the Supreme Court which today affirmed their victories in the March 18, 2023 governorship election in their respective States.
PDP described the affirmation by the Supreme Court as resounding victory for Democracy and ultimate triumph of the expressed will of the people of Bauchi, Plateau and Zamfara States in their quest for purposeful leadership and good governance under the banner of the PDP.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Hon Debo Ologunagba, in a statement, said the reverberating jubilation across Bauchi, Plateau, Zamfara and other States of the federation is a testimony that the judgments are in line with the expectation of Nigerians in their pursuit of justice, Rule of Law and deepening of Constitutional Democracy in our country.
“On Bauchi, the judgment of the Supreme Court is a validation of the aspiration of the people of the State in their resolve to defend and preserve good governance as epitomized in the people-oriented leadership style and life-changing achievements of Governor Bala Mohammed for which they overwhelmingly re-elected him on March 18, 2023.
“Our Party remains proud of Governor Bala Mohammed’s legacy achievements in citizen empowerment, human capital and infrastructural developments across all sectors of life since his assumption of office as governor in May 2019.
“On Plateau State, the PDP commends the courage of the Supreme Court in upholding the Will of the people and showing that indeed, the Judiciary is the last hope of the common man. The verdict came as a seal of the triumph of the manifest resilience of the women, youths and the entire people of Plateau State in their determination to liberate their State from the stranglehold of oppressive anti-people forces.
“Governor Mutfwang’s election marked a new beginning of purposeful and people-oriented leadership that has eluded Plateau State in the last eight years. This is evident in his proactive and transformative achievements in critical sectors in the State despite daunting challenges.
“On Zamfara State, the PDP applauds the Supreme Court for upholding justice by overturning the reprehensible attempt by anti-democratic forces to suppress the expressed Will of the people of Zamfara State who voted overwhelmingly for Dr. Lawal in their determination to rescue their State from an overtly corrupt, reckless, insensitive and depraved regime.