• Adamawa, Benue yet to be decided
• A major blow if Kano, Plateau are lost — Buhari
Jubilation has trailed the Supreme Court judgement that upheld the elections of four governors – Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi).
The judgements were each delivered unanimously by a seven-member panel of justices led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta.
In the appeal by Abba Kabiru-Yusuf of the PDP challenging the election of Ganduje, the Supreme Court held that the appeal did not contain infractions in Paragraph C of Section 138(1) of the Electoral Act (as amended) on which he based his petition.
The lead judgement read by Justice Ngwuta said the appellant did not demonstrate the perversity of the error at the tribunal and Court of Appeal, which if not amended will lead to a miscarriage of justice.
In the Sokoto appeal read by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, the apex court dismissed the submissions by Ahmed Aliyu of the APC that Tambuwal’s election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC Guidelines for Elections, and that the lower courts were wrong to discountenance the exhibits tendered to show over-voting and other irregularities in the March 9 and 23, 2019 elections.
Justice Abba-Aji said Aliyu and APC failed to link the exhibits to the foundation of their case, adding that the court “is not to go on a voyage of discovery.”
Reading the judgement in the appeal by PDP candidate Jeremiah Useni challenging the election of Lalong, the apex court panel held that the allegation of substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC Guidelines in the election, non-qualification and false information were not proved.
In the judgement read by Justice Adamu Galinje, the panel dismissed the claim that Governor Lalong gave false information about his name in INEC Form CF001.
In the Bauchi appeal brought by the former governor of the state, Mohammed Abubakar against Governor Bala Mohammed, Justice Dattijo Mohammed, who read the lead judgement, held that the appellants failed to demonstrate the perversity of the judgments of the lower courts which dismissed his petition.
19 appeals decided, two expected
Following the latest decision, two more governorship appeals in Adamawa and Benue are being expected at the Supreme Court.
Other appeals decided so far are: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Delta, Ebonyi, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, and Rivers.
It would have been major blow if Kano, Plateau are lost – Buhari
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), for the Supreme Court judgement that upheld the elections of governors on the party’s platform.
Buhari, in a statement issued by his media aide, Garba Shehu, said “I am glad this tortuous journey has ended in favour of the party and our governors. APC won the states and has proved it in court. It would have been a major blow if strategically important states like Kano and Plateau are lost.”
Buhari, who congratulated all the APC governors who the Supreme Court affirmed their elections, urged the electorate and politicians to strengthen the country’s judicial processes by always seeking redress in court.
“It has now become standard procedure for the opposition to challenge any poll or judgement that does not return its candidates.
“Election is good when they win. The opposite is the case if someone else emerges. But that is not the way it works. Democracy is not only about who wins or who loses, but also about the process. In disparaging every unfavourable result or judgement, they disparage the entire system,” he said.
It was celebration galore in Kano immediately after the verdict of the Supreme Court was delivered.
Our correspondent reports that the Kano government house was filled as supporters trooped there to celebrate the victory with the governor. On the streets, some supporters were also seen celebrating.
Speaking on his victory, Ganduje said he has forgiven his political opponents who have been struggling to cripple him politically.
Addressing a press conference, Ganduje said politics was not a war, hence his decision to forgive his opponents.
“After all, the opposition political parties that took us to court have done nothing wrong. They have rather exercised their rights in democracy. Nobody faulted the opposition for exercising their rights.
“Our doors will remain widely open for all Kano sons and daughters cutting across party affiliations to come and join the government. I am ready to work with whoever approaches me irrespective of party affiliation,” he said.
In Sokoto, elated supporters of the PDP thronged the streets in triumph, rejoicing at the news of the court verdict that affirmed Tambuwal as the state governor.
“We are quite elated and excited. We have every cause to celebrate over this victory” one of them, Nasiru Aliyu, said.
Another, Sani Hassan proclaimed: “God has answered our payers.”
On the side of the APC side, when asked for comment on the outcome of the legal tussle, the publicity secretary, Sambo Bello Danchadi, said: “Not yet”. He added that the party would officially comment in due course.
Meanwhile, government and commercial activities were grounded in Sokoto yesterday over the uncertainty of what might follow the verdict of the Supreme Court.
Daily Trust learnt that some parents refused to send their children to school over the development.
Our reporter who visited some government offices at the Shehu Kangiwa Secretariat also observed most of the offices deserted.
Some junior staff sat under trees, discussing the outcome of the case at the Supreme Court.
It was similar a scenario in Bauchi as hundreds of supporters and members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) swarmed major roads celebrating the judgment of the apex court. Youths, women and other admirers of the governor were seen in cars, on motorcycles and tricycles playing local and other musical instruments and carrying posters of the governor celebrating the victory.
Daily Trust reliably gathered that there will be a grand rally for the celebration when the governor returned to Bauchi today from Abuja where he personally witnessed the court sitting.
Our correspondent observed police patrol teams moving around with sirens along all the major roads and streets to forestall breach of the peace.
Bauchi city had witnessed a tensed atmosphere for over one week following speculations about the outcome of the case, a situation that prompted politicians and other stakeholders to embark on series of meetings and special prayer sessions for God’s intervention.
Meanwhile, Governor Bala Mohammed has called on his challenger and predecessor, Muhammed Abubakar to join hands with his administration to take the state to greater heights.
Report from Plateau State showed that most parts of the state were calm as some residents expressed relief that the Supreme Court judgement will finally put to rest the numerous political distractions in the state.
“At least governance can go on without distraction. It is better this way and we hope he (Lalong) will work with the opposition,” said Ambrose Kaze.
In a quick reaction shortly after his victory, Governor Simon Lalong said the affirmation of his election victory has finally sealed and confirmed beyond further questioning the overwhelming mandate willingly bestowed on him by the people of Plateau State.
Reacting to the judgement, the media consultant of Sen. JT Useni, Yiljap Abraham, told our correspondent on phone that the senator was aware of the judgement and will make a pronouncement at the appropriate time.