The appeal filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Mohammed Isah Ashiru, challenging the election of Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State, has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Sani as the winner of the exercise. The APC flagbearer polled 730,002 votes to defeat his closest rival Ashiru who had 719,196 votes.
The supreme court which affirmed judgments of the tribunal and the court of appeal on grounds of the appeal lacking merit, awarded no cost for the judgement.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Governor Sani, who was the candidate of the APC, winner of the 18 March 2023 governorship election.
A five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Kudirat Kekere-Ekun held that the appeal by Mohammed Isah Ashiru of PDP lacked merit.
In the lead decision, Tijjani Abubakar, a member of the Supreme Court panel, said, “The appellant’s case is frivolous, vexatious and irritating. It is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit.”
Citing relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, Mr Abubakar said the appellant failed to comply with the law regarding the filing of pre-hearing notice at the tribunal.
The Supreme Court decision affirmed the 24 November 2023 judgement of the Court of Appeal on the case.
In the tribunal’s judgement delivered on 28 September 2023, two members of the panel, in a majority decision, ruled that the petition brought by the PDP and Mr Ashiru failed because the petitioners were too late to apply for pre-hearing notice after filing their petition.
Delivering judgement on the merit of the case, the tribunal, again, split two-to-one to rule that it would have declared the election inconclusive had the petition passed the procedural test.
Given the nature of the judgement, both sides of the dispute headed to the Court of Appeal to challenge the aspects of the verdict they found to be unfavourable.
In its judgement on Friday, the Court of Appeal resolved both the appeals and cross-appeal in favour of the APC.
The court set aside the aspect of the tribunal’s judgement directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a supplementary election in some polling units in parts of the state.
The court also said the trial tribunal was wrong to have declared the poll inconclusive.
Obietonbara Daniel-Kalio, who read the lead judgements on the main and cross-appeals, held that the 18 March election which produced Mr Sani was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.
In the main appeal, the Court of Appeal resolved all the five formulated issues against Mr Ashiru and PDP.
The five issues bordered on alleged malpractices, over-voting, manipulation of results, and ballot stuffing.
In the cross-appeal filed by the APC, which challenged the declaration of the election inconclusive, the panel resolved the three formulated issues in favour of the party and vacated the declaration of the tribunal.
The court held that evidence relied upon by the tribunal to declare the election inconclusive was manifestly bad, unreliable and ought not to have given any probative value.
The panel of justices, headed by Daniel-Kalio, was supported by James Gambo Abundaga and Mohamed Baba Idris.