Protests today Friday erupted in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, after the Supreme Court affirmed the election of Governor Abdullahi Sule.
The Supreme Court also today approved the election of four other governors, whose elections had been under litigation for the past nine months, including: Delta, Gombe, Kebbi, and Ogun.
SUPREME COURT VERDICT ON NASARAWA SPARKS PROTESTS
The Lafia-Jos road was completely blocked as the protesters set fire to tyres along the road, with motorists resorting to alternative routes.
Owners of shops, business centres and schools within the Lafia metropolis closed.
Protest broke out after the Supreme Court today Friday, Jan. 19, affirmed Abdullahi Sule as the duly elected Gof Nasarawa state.
The victory of Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections had been contested by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its Governorship Candidate, Emmanuel David Ombugadu.
In a judgement delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the five-member panel of Justices of the Court, Sule’s victory was his upheld, just like at the judgement of the Court of Appeal which had, in November, affirmed his election.
“I have carefully read the submissions of parties in the appeal and the documents tendered and I resolve all the issues in this appeal against the appellants.
“This appeal lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed. The cross-appeals marked, SC/CV/1214/2023, SC/CV/1215/2023 are also dismissed”, the court held and affirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeal which reversed the judgement of the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition which sacked governor Sule from office.
At the proceedings on January 19, lead counsel to the PDP and its governorship candidate, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) urged the apex court to set aside the November 23 judgment of the Court of Appeal which affirmed Sule as the lawfully elected governor of Nasarawa state.
In its place, Agabi prayed the apex court to restore the October 2, 2023 judgment of the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal granted in favour of PDP and Ombugadu, adding that, the Court of Appeal unjustly nullified the Tribunal’s judgment and unjustly declared Sule as winner of the March 18 governorship election in the state.
Agabi specifically prayed the Supreme Court to be meaningful by declaring PDP and Ombugadu as winners as rightly done by the Tribunal.
However, Governor Sule, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and APC, in their submissions, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
SUPREME COURT ON DELTA STATE
In a unanimous decision, a five-member panel of the apex court dismissed an appeal the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, filed to challenge the outcome of the governorship election held in the state on March 18, 2023.
INEC declared that Oborevwori of the PDP polled 360, 234 votes to win the governorship election ahead of Omo-Agege of the APC who secured 240, 229 votes.
The court, in its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Okoro, held that the appeal lacked merit.
It held that the APC and its candidate did not prove that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2023.
The court dismissed Omo-Agege’s contention that some of the result sheets that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, relied upon to declare Oborevwori as the winner of the election, did not have serial numbers.
According to the court, even if the total number of INEC forms that the Appellants complained about are removed, it would still not affect the margin of lead that was in Oborevwori’s favour.
It held that the Appellants failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law to warrant the setting aside of both the Court of Appeal judgement and the verdict of the Delta State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
Consequently, it dismissed the petition without cost.
SUPREME COURT ON KEBBI GOVERNORSHIP
Also today, the Supreme Court affirmed the election of Nasir Idris of APC as the Governor of Kebbi State.
A five-member panel of the apex court, in a unanimous judgment, dismissed the appeal by Bande Aminu, who was the candidate of the PDP in the last governorship election in the state.
Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, who read the lead judgment, held that Aminu’s appeal lacked merit.
SUPREME COURT ON OGUN STATE
The apex court re-affirmed Dapo Abiodun as the duly elected Governor of Ogun State in the 18th March Governorship poll.
Supreme Court Justice Tijjani Abubakar upheld the concurrent findings of the lower courts and held that the appellants could not discharge the burden of proof placed on them.
INEC had declared APC’s Abiodun, the incumbent, as the winner with 276,298 votes against his closest challenger: Oladipupo Adebutu of the PDP who scored 262,383 votes.
The tribunal earlier unanimously dismissed the petition for being “incompetent, defective, disjunctive and lack merits.”
Adebutu approached the appeal Court seeking a reversal of the tribunal decision, however, in a 2-1 decision, the Appellate Court upheld the decision of the tribunal.
The dissenting judgement held that INEC ought not to have declared Abiodun winner since the margin of lead was less than the number of cancelled votes.
SUPREME COURT ON GOMBE STATE
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by PDP candidate, Jibrin Barde, against the election of Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State.
The five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun affirmed the judgements of the lower courts on the matter.
Justice Kekere-Ekun said she found nothing wrong with the lower courts’ judgments to warrant interference by the apex court.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja had, in November 2023, affirmed Yahaya’s election as the Governor of Gombe State.
However, Kekere-Ekun found that there was insufficient evidence to support the concurrent findings’ being put aside, therefore affirming the appeals court’s decision upholding Yahaya’s triumph.
With 342,821 votes to beat his nearest opponent, Barde, who had 233,131 votes, Yahaya was proclaimed the victor of the March 18 gubernatorial race.
The opposition party claimed that in nine of the state’s eleven LGAs, Yahaya’s supporters had engaged in thumbprinting and ballot box stuffing.