The Supreme Court on Wednesday validated the election of Governor Oluseyi Makinde of Oyo State and the victories of the governors of seven other states at the March 9, 2019 governorship elections held in their various states.
A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, in separate judgments, affirmed the elections of Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Aminu Masari of Katsina State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State.
While Makinde, Emmanuel and Umahi were of the Peoples Democratic Party, Sanwo-Olu, El-Rufai, Masari, Abiodun and Sule contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
The panel heard the appeals on the governorship tussles from the eight states in two batches on Wednesday.
After each lap of hearing, the members of the panel retired to their chambers to prepare their judgment and returned about an hour after to give the summary of their verdicts on the appeals.
The Oyo State governorship dispute turned out to be the most contentious among the appeals decided by the apex court on Wednesday, as all the parties to the case filed separate appeals against the November 11, 2019 judgment of the Ibadan Division of the Court of Appeal.
Although, the Court of Appeal, had in its split judgment of four-to-one substantially upheld the case of the APC and its candidate in the governorship poll, Adebayo Adelabu, it refused to make any order nullifying Makinde’s election.
Therefore, the APC and Adelabu, through their lawyer, Aliyu Umar (SAN), had filed an appeal against the Court of Appeal’s judgment, urging the apex court to make a specific order nullifying Makinde’s victory at the poll.
Makinde, had also through his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), filed an appeal praying the apex court to set aside the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal and affirm the judgment of the election petition tribunal, which affirmed him as the duly elected governor of the state.
The PDP, through its lawyer, Nathaniel Oke (SAN), and the Independent National Electoral Commission, through its counsel, Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN), had also filed separate appeals against the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal.
At the hearing earlier on Wednesday, the apex court decided that its decision on the appeal filed by Makinde would be binding on the rest of the appeals on the governorship election in the state.
Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment, overturned the November 11, 2019 judgment of the Ibadan Division of the Court of Appeal and restored the judgment of the Oyo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which had declared Makinde and his party, the winner of the election.
Justice Eko said, “After going through the briefs of arguments, I find merit in this appeal.
“The judgment of the lower court is mainly based on perversity.
“The majority judgment is hereby set aside.
“The minority judgment/decision of the lower court represents a more sober reflection on the issues.”
In upholding El-Rufai’s election as Kaduna State governor, Justice Centus Nweze, who delivered the lead judgment, dismissed the appeal by Isah Ashiru of the PDP.
Justice Nweze noted that the concurrent judgments of both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal dismissing Ashiru’s appeal could only be set aside if found to be perverse and consistent in error.
But he noted that the appellants (Ashiru and the PDP) “failed to show the perversity in the concurrent judgments.”
“The issue in this appeal having been resolved against the appellant, I find no merit in the appeal and I hereby enter judgment dismissing the appeal,” he ruled.
Upholding the election of the APC’s Abdullahi Sule as the governor of Nasarawa State, Justice Mary Peter-Odili, who read the lead judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the PDP and its candidate, David Ombugadu.
Justice Peter-Odili noted that the APC won in 13 local government areas, while the PDP won in only one.
She ruled that the appellants failed to prove their alleged case of “non-compliance affected the election.”
“This appeal fails, and it is hereby dismissed,” she added.
Concerning the Lagos State governorship dispute, Justice Paul Galinje delivered the lead judgments in two appeals challenging Sanwo-Olu’s election.
In the two judgments, Justice Galinje held that the appeal by the Labour Party and its candidate, Prof Ifagbemi Awamaridi, and the other by the Alliance for Democracy and its candidate, Chief Owolabi Salis, lacked merit.
He noted that he had no reason to interfere with the concurrent judgments of the tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which had both dismissed the appellants’ cases.
He added that their petitions instituted at the tribunal were not based on the grounds recognised by either the Constitution or the Electoral Act.
Justice Peter-Odili similarly dismissed the appeal by Adekunle Akinlade and his Allied Peoples Movement challenging the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.
She held that the appellants failed to prove the alleged non-compliance of the conduct of the March 9, 2011 poll in the state.
In respect of the Akwa Ibom State governorship tussle, Justice Dattijo Muhammad, who read the lead judgment, upheld Emmanuel’s election after dismissing the appeal by Nsima Ekere and his party, the APC, for lacking in merit.
Justice Amina Augie, who delivered the lead judgments in respect of the Ebonyi and Katsina governorship tussles, upheld the elections of the governors of the two states.
She dismissed the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Movement and his candidate, Chief Ajah Arua, as he held that they failed to prove that they were validly nominated to participate in the election, not to talk of proving that they were unlawfully excluded from the poll.
Upholding Masari’s election as Katsina State governor, Justice Augie dismissed the petition filed by the PDP and its candidate, Garba Lado.