Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Supreme Court, yesterday, said it would deliver judgment in the appeal filed by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Ahmed Aliyu against the election of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State on Monday January 20.
A seven-man panel of the Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammed fixed the date after counsel to both parties had adopted the brief of arguments for and against the appeal.
Sokoto State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on October 2, 2019 dismissed the petition against Tambuwal.
But dissatisfied with the tribunal judgment, the APC, through its lead counsel, Dr Alex Iziyon (SAN) had appealed the judgment on three grounds of non-compliance with electoral laws, over voting and other irregularities
The election was declared inconclusive following the cancellation of 75,403 votes which were higher than the 3,413 votes margin between the leading candidates.
A re-run was held on March 23, led to the victory of Tambuwal who won with a slim margin of 342 votes.
In a related case, the Supreme Court, yesterday, shifted hearing in the appeals against the election of governors Samuel Ortom of Benue; Solomon Lalong, Plateau; Bala Mohammed, Bauchi and Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa states over heavy work load.
Justice Ibrahim Muhammed who announced the postponement lamented that the court was overburden with 13 appeals arising from the 2019 governorship elections and how to deliver judgmnts within allotted time.
On Monday, the court had to abruptly halt proceedings and adjourn to yesterday citing the sudden illness of one of the judges.
It was however noticed that when the appeals came up, the CJN led a re-constituted seven-man panel of judges with Justice John Okoro replaced with Justice Amina Augie.
The CJN had expressed worry over the need for the apex court to meet deadlines.
“On this list, there are 13 appeals to hear today. It is unrealistic, I must be sincere,” he said.
He urged lawyers to speak for judges so that solutions could be proffered to cases of work overload in the apex court. “When you find yourself in positions of authority, please do something.”
The Constitution makes it mandatory for the Supreme Court to deliver judgment on an appeal arising from an election dispute within 60 days following the appellate court verdict.
While the election petition tribunal has 180 days to deliver judgment from the time of filing a petition, the Court of Appeal has 90 days to deliver its verdict on an appeal.
The CJN said despite the odds, the Supreme Court would deliver judgments on all election-related cases within the 60 days stipulated by law.
“I am 100 per cent sure that the Supreme Court has never failed to deliver judgments before the expiration of time,” Justice Muhammad said.