By Gbemisola Adebowale
The Supreme Court recently delivered judgement in pending governorship election petition cases on January 12, 2024. On the Arise TV Good Morning Show, Reuben Abati, while analysing the litigious nature of the 2023 general election, noted that the cases of Ebonyi and Bauchi were straightforward due to consistent decisions by the tribunal and appellate courts.
However, Abati noted the complexity in states like Kano, Plateau, and Zamfara. It was at this point that he claimed that the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Kano delivered judgement in favour of Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). The show host went on to assert that the decision of the Tribunal was overturned by the Court of Appeal in favour of Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In his words, “But Kano presents a different case; Plateau presents a different case, Zamfara also presents a different case. Let me just run through them very quickly. In the case of Kano, this is NNPP vs. APC or vice versa. This is Governor Yusuf vs. Yusuf Gawuna, and the key point here has to do with, one, the membership of the political party: can another political party inquire into the membership of another political party?
The second is, Can a candidate be punished for the omissions of INEC, because in this case, the tribunal had originally ruled in favour of Govenor Abba Yusuf of Kano, but when the matter went to the appellate court at the instance of Gawuna and the APC, the appellate court found differently…”
CDD War Room found that on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, the Kano State governorship election tribunal delivered a judgement that sacked Abba Kabir Yusuf of the NNPP as the governor of the state. The Tribunal subsequently declared APC’s Nasir Gawuna the winner of the March 18 governorship election.
The three-man panel, which delivered its verdict via Zoom, ordered the withdrawal of the certificate of return from the NNPP candidate, and have it presented to the APC flag bearer. CDD War Room recalls that the initial result released by INEC after the March 2023 governorship election in Kano State showed Yusuf polling 1,019,602 votes to defeat his closest challenger, APC’s Gawuna who polled 890,705 votes, declaring Yusuf the winner with a margin of 128,897 votes.
However, contrary to INEC’s count, the tribunal’s ruling invalidated 165,663 votes belonging to the NNPP. This deduction was applied to the initially declared 1,019,602 votes. In November 2023, the Court of Appeal sacked the governor, thereby upholding the decision of the election tribunal.
In addition to upholding the decision of the Tribunal, the appellate court went further to disqualify the governor; it cited a violation of Section 177(c) of the constitution, which provides that a person must be a member of a political party and sponsored by that party to qualify for election as governor.
Dissatisfied by both the decisions of the election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal, Abba Yusuf headed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in its judgement delivered on January 12, 2024, quashed the verdicts of the tribunal and the appellate court. It consequently held that Yusuf of the NNPP was the duly elected governor of Kano State.
The Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal did not uphold the election of Abba Kabir Yusuf, as claimed on the Morning Show. Instead, the Tribunal sacked the Kano State Governor and declared the APC candidate as the lawfully elected governor. The Appeal Court also concurred with the verdict of the Tribunal. However, those judicial outcomes at the tribunal and appellate court levels were struck down at the Supreme Court, thereby affirming the electoral victory of Abba Kabir Yusuf as Governor of Kano State.