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Abba Yusuf remains duly elected governor of Kano, supreme court rules

The supreme court has certified the election of Abba Yusuf as Kano state governor.

A five-member panel of the apex court held that the tribunal and the court of appeal erred by sacking Yusuf, candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), as governor of the state.

The supreme court had reserved judgment after hearing the appeals on December 21, 2023.

In March 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Yusuf as the winner of the Kano governorship election.

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The Kano governor scored 1,019,602 votes to defeat Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 890,705 votes.

In September, the Kano governorship election petition tribunal sacked Yusuf as governor of the state.

The tribunal deducted 165,663 votes from the 1,019,602 recorded for Yusuf because the ballot papers were not stamped, signed and dated as required by law.

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The tribunal then declared Gawuna as the winner of the election.

Displeased with the verdict, the NNPP and its candidate challenged the judgment at the appellate court.

THE JUDGMENT

The panel led by John Okoro held that the tribunal was wrong to have invalidated 165,663 votes from the votes polled by Yusuf.

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The tribunal had deducted the votes because the said ballot papers were not stamped and signed by INEC pursuant to Section 71 of the Electoral Act.

However, the apex court held that the ballot papers cannot be invalidated because they came from the booklet of ballot papers which carried official logos and the map of Nigeria.

The court held that the petitioners failed to prove that the said ballot papers were not part of the booklet of ballot papers deployed by INEC and furnished to presiding officers in the various polling units.

On the issue of party membership, the court held that it is an internal affair that cannot be challenged by a member of another party.

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Consequently, the court held that “the judgment of the lower court voiding the election of the appellant is hereby set aside”.

‘CLERICAL ERROR’

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On November 17, 2023, the court of appeal upheld the tribunal’s verdict and added that Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP when he contested the election.

However, controversy trailed the verdict days later when a certified true copy (CTC) of the appeal court judgment surfaced, contradicting the November 17 ruling.

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The copy of the judgment ruled against and in favour of the NNPP candidate simultaneously, eliciting outrage on social media platforms and the streets.

The appeal court issued a statement blaming “clerical error” for the contradictions or discrepancies.

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In its ruling, Okoro of the supreme court said: “There is no proof that the said ballot papers were not the ones used at the election”.

“Thus the decision of the court of appeal affirming the decision of the tribunal ought to be set aside,” he added.

“What is the effect of a ballot paper not having the marks by the electoral commission?

“A ballot paper that does not bear INEC mark is not invalid by all purposes.

“Finally, the lower court wrongly misconstrued its evaluation of the ballot papers. This amounts to perversion. Accordingly, all the ballot papers are restored to Governor Yusuf.”

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