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S’Court affirms elections of 8 state governors, sets aside sack of Mutfwang, Yusuf

Governor Caleb Mutfwang, Plateau

..Worries over Assembly members’ loss of seats

BY ANDREW OROLUA

The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the elections of eight state governors including the governors of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang and his Kano State counterpart ,Governor Abba Yusuf Kabiru that were both sacked by the Court of Appeal last year.

Others are Governor Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi State, Gov. Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Gov Alex Otti of Abia State and Gov Bassey Otu of Cross River State.

A five man member panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Inyang Okoro in unanimous judgements set aside the decisions of Court of Appeal Abuja Division in the appeals challenging the election Governor Mutfwang.

Presiding Justice Inyang Okoro said that a lot of people have suffered from the decision of the lower court below.

Indeed, two senators and four members of House of Representatives and members of Plateau State House of Assembly who were removed from office by court appeal on the account of same facts and issues on which the apex court restored Mutfwang to his office.

“And it is unfortunate that the lawmakers jobs were truncated and constitutionally they have no right of appeal as the Court of Appeal remains the last point of call on Assembly election matters”, Demian Dodo SAN one of the lawyers in the matter told the panel.

Delivering the lead judgement on Plateau State appeal, Justice Emmanuel Agim said that the Court of Appeal was wrong when it held that the order of Plateau State High court on state PDP chapter did not comply with the party’s National Executive Council.

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He said that, in any case it was in evidence that the order was complied with by the party. Besides, the apex court held that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to determine issues of nominations which are purely pre- election matters.

In allowing the appeal, Justice Agim , warned that the “legal practitioners to wake up to their duty or render the profession incapable.”

Consequently, the apex court set aside the judgement of Court of Appeal and restored the election victory of Muftwang.

Other justices of the panel: Justices Inyang Okoro, Uwani Abba – Aji, Hellen Ogunwumiju, Adamu Jauro all agreed with the judgement.

Ebonyi State

Justice Tijani Abubakar delivered lead judgement after he resolved all issues raised in the appeal against the appellant. He affirmed the judgment of Court of Appeal Lagos which had dismissed the appeal challenging the election of Governor

Zamfara State

In the lead judgements delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim , the Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal that declared the election of Dauda inconclusive .

The Supreme Court said it was evidence in record that the petitioner did not proved case of non-compliance and that there was no genuine reason for cancellation of result in the said wards affected.

Lagos State

The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the election victory of Gov Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State as duly elected governor of the state .

In a unanimous judgement, a five member panel of apex court held that the appeal brought the Labour Party Governorship candidate Rhodes-Vivour lack merit.

The apex court explained that the sole issue raised in the appeal which dealt with the qualifications Babafemi Hamzat the deputy governor of Lagos State was resolved against the appellant.

It held that Hamzat citizenship of United States was not helpful to the Appellant case because the Deputy governor was a citizen of Nigeria by birth.

The apex court held that the declaration of allegiance to been a United States citizen can not rob him the birth right to contest an election for the office of governor or deputy governor of Lagos State.

The apex court also dismissed the appeal filed by PDP and Abdullazeez Adeniran for being entirely devoid of merit. Justice Jauro who delivered the judgement held that the issue on the appeal was a pre-election matter.

Bauchi, Abia and Cross River States

The appeals against the elections of Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Gov Alex Otti of Abia State and Gov Bassey Otu of Cross River State were similarly dismissed by the apex court for lacking in merits.

In respect of Abia State where the contention of the appellant was that Gov Alex Otti was not a member of Labour Party, Justice Uwani Abba- Aji who delivered the lead judgement held that issue of Otti membership of Labour Party was an Internal affairs of the party which the court lack jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court also held that the petition against Gov Bassey Otu of Cross River State ought not to have been on appeal. The petition had alleged that Gov Otu had no certificate. The matter was dismissed by the tribunal and Court of Appeal but the petitioner dragged the matter before the apex court. Justice Helen Ogunwumiju who delivered the lead judgements lambasted the petitioner.

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