Kano governorship appeal: Court reserves judgement

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The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Kano State Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) against the judgment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, winner of the election.

Recall that the Independent National Electronic Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Abba Kabir Yusuf  of the NNPP winner of the March 18, 2023 election, after he garnered 1,019,602 votes to defeat Gawuna who got 890,705 of the votes cast.

But Gawuna and the APC approached the Tribunal, citing alleged electoral malpractice.

A three-man panel of judges led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay sacked Yusuf on September 20, 2023, by declaring 165,663 of his votes invalid because they were not signed or stamped by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The governor’s votes were then reduced to 853,939 while Ganuwa’s 890,705 votes remained.

But Abba Yusuf immediately rejected the tribunal verdict, which he described as “unfair” and “a miscarriage of justice”, and headed to the appeal court.

The governor then filed an appeal before the appellate court. The APC, INEC, and the NNPP also entered cross-appeals before the court.

At the court on Monday, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel for Yusuf, asked that the judgement of the tribunal be set aside.

He kicked against the ruling, noting that it was the first time in history that a tribunal would annul an election over non-signing of the back of ballot papers.

The lawyer explained that the tribunal erred, adding that it was also the first time that a political party would file a matter without joining its candidate as a party in the petition and the candidate would be declared winner of the polls.

Akin Olujimi (SAN), counsel for the APC, countered him, saying the Appeal Court stated emphatically that the non-signing of ballots amounted to electoral malpractice. He argued that INEC regulations have set out what presiding officers are to do at the point of voting, adding that the back of ballot papers must be signed and dated.

The appeal court panel subsequently reserved judgment, saying a date would be communicated to the parties.

“Judgement in this appeal is hereby reserved to a date to be communicated to the parties,” the panel held.

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