Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Supreme Court in separate judgements on Wednesday affirmed the election of Seyi Makinde, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Nasir el-Rufai and Udom Emmanuel as governors of Oyo, Lagos, Kaduna and Akwa Ibom states respectively.
In a unanimous judgment, a seven-panel of justices led by Justice Mary Odili, held that the various governors were lawfully elected as governors of their respective states.
In affirming Makinde’s election, the Supreme Court agreed with the submissions of Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, that the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal which nullified the judgment of the Oyo State Election Petition Tribunal was flawed.
In a four-to-one majority judgment the Court of Appeal had voided the tribunal’s judgment on the grounds that its decision was perverse because the petitioner, Adebayo Adelabu, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was denied fair hearing in the matter.
However the apex court upheld the submissions of Olanipekun that the tribunal’s judgment was in order and that no party was denied fair hearing throughout the period of the hearing.
Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment, agreed with the senior lawyer that the majority judgment was not in line with the position of the law, unlike that of the minority judgment which he said was more sober.
Justice Eko, therefore, set aside the judgment of the lower court and restored the decision of the tribunal as prayed by the appellant.
Makinde had appealed the judgment of the Court of Appeal which had set aside the judgment of the tribunal which upheld his election as governor of Oyo State.
In another judgment, the Supreme Court upheld the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili affirmed the governor’s victory at the March 9, 2019 election after dismissing two separate appeals challenging the outcome of the poll.
Justice Paul Galinje, who delivered the lead judgments in the two appeals held that the appeals lacked merit.
One of the appeals dismissed by the court was filed by Prof. Ifagbemi Awamaridi and his party, the Labour Party.
The other was by Chief Owolabi Salis, and his party, the Alliance Democracy.
In the Katsina case, the apex court upheld the submissions of Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, that the first respondent, Bello Masari, was eminently qualified for the March 9 governorship election.
The court also agreed with Fagbemi that the appellant did not challenge the basic qualification of the governor, other than mere allegations of submitting false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for his clearance for the said election.
Justice Mary Peter-Odili, while delivering the lead judgment held that the appeal by Senator Yakubu Lado, was devoid of merit and substance, and accordingly upheld the concurrent judgment of the tribunal and Appeal Court which upheld the election of Masari as governor of Katsina State.
Others whose elections were also upheld, were those of Governor Nasir el-Rufai and Governor Abdullahi Sule of Kaduna and Nasarawa states respectively.
The apex court in its unanimous judgment held that the appeal filed by Isa Hashiru, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9 governorship election challenging the victory of el-Rufai of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lacked merit.
Similarly, the challenge of another PDP candidate in Nasarawa State, David Ombugadu, against the election of Governor Abdullahi Sule of the APC was also dismissed for lacking merit.
According to the judgment of the apex court, the appellants in the two different appeals failed to substantiate their claims of irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the electoral laws.
The judgment also noted that the two appellants did not show evidence to warrant the setting aside of the concurrent decisions of the tribunal and Appeal Court.
The Supreme Court accordingly upheld the election of both el-Rufai and Sule as governors of Kaduna and Nasarawa states respectively.
Others whose elections were also affirmed were those of Ogun, Lagos and Ebonyi states.