Nigeria: Supreme Court Retains Four Governors

(File photo).
21 January 2020

Abuja, Bauchi, Sokoto, Jos and Kano — A peaceful protest yesterday by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the Supreme Court's sacking of its candidate in the last governorship election, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, as Imo State governor, grounded activities in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

During the protest, led by the party's National Chairman, Uche Secondus, the main opposition party reiterated its call for a review of the judgment to pave the way for Ihedioha's reinstatement.

The protest came on the day the Supreme Court delivered judgments in four election appeals and upheld the victories of four governors: Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and Simon Lalong (Plateau).

The PDP protest, which began at the party's Legacy House in Maitama District and terminated at the Eagle Square, caught many commuters and motorists unawares.

Most of the motori sts and pedestrians said they were not aware of the protest.

A complement of security agents, comprising officers and men of the Nigeria Police, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and men of the Department of State Services (DSS), were on hand to maintain law and order as the protesters marched on the streets of Abuja.

Besides Secondus, other members of the party's National Working Committee (NWC), Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Assembly members were among the marchers.

The protest took off around 9.40 a.m and ended around 11.05 a.m.

All PDP members that participated in the protest wore black T-shirts and black fez caps with the inscription "Save The Judiciary," "Save Democracy in Nigeria."

Both lawyers to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ganduje aligned themselves with Raji's submission and urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

Reacting to the judgment, Ganduje said that he had forgiven his main political opponent, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and other opposition figures in the state.

He told reporters at the Government House Kano, that the opposition should team up with his administration to develop the state.

In the Sokoto State case, Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, who delivered the lead judgment, held that the case of the appellants lacked merit and was liable for dismissal.

He held that the appellants failed to tie evidence adduced to their case, both at the tribunal and the Court of Appeal, adding that it is not the duty of the court to do so on behalf of the appellants.

While stating that the appellants merely dumped documents before the court, the apex court held that it is not the duty of the court to go through documents tendered by parties, which were not demonstrated in the open court.

Justice Abba-Aji stressed that the court cannot go on a voyage to discover which of the documents to attach to the individual witnesses because the documents were not properly certified.

"A party tendering documents owes a duty to ensure that such documents or exhibits are nailed to the relevant aspect of his case," the apex court held.

In addition, Justice Abba-Aji said out of the 12 witnesses called by the appellants while one was deemed to have abandoned his evidence, the evidence of the remaining 11 was inadmissible because the appellants failed to tender the original version of their statements made in Hausa language.

The court said it was not enough to tender the translated version of the witnesses, adding that doing so without attaching the Hausa language version amounts to hearsay.

Justice Abba-Aji held that the lower court was right to reject the tendered documents in evidence because they did not meet the necessary requirements for admittance in an election matter.

Having upheld the concurrent judgments of the lower courts Justice Abba-Aji consequently declared that Tambuwal was duly elected as governor of Sokoto State.

In his reaction, Tambuwal said he dedicated his victory to God and the people who elected him.

He attributed his success at the Supreme Court to divine intervention and intense prayers by the people for Allah to help them in protecting their mandate.

Tambuwal spoke at a special prayer session inside the Government House mosque in the state capital Monday evening.

"There is no doubt that Allah, in his infinite mercy and wisdom decided the outcome of the case instituted against us at the Supreme Court. As a result, what transpired today was a manifestation of what was known to Him long before now," a statement by the governor's spokesman, Mohammed Bello, said.

The apex court also dismissed the appeal challenging the declaration of Lalong as governor of Plateau State.

The court in a unanimous judgment held that the appellants, Senator Jeremiah Useni and his party, PDP, failed to prove allegations made against the victory of Lalong.

The apex court in the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Adamu Galinje accordingly affirmed the election of Lalong.

It noted that the issue of qualification upon which the appellants predicated their case was a constitutional matter, adding that the appellants apart from failing to prove that Lalong did not meet the minimum requirement for contesting the election did not show how the issue of alleged non-compliance affected the outcome of the poll.

The court in addition held that the appellants failed to prove their allegations of malpractices, over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act in their appeal and therefore dismissed the appeal.

Reacting to his victory, Lalong said the affirmation of his election "has finally sealed and confirmed beyond further questioning the overwhelming mandate willingly bestowed on him by the good people of Plateau State."

The governor, in a statement by his Director of Press, Dr. Simon Macham, said he was never in doubt as to the validity of his mandate as he did not only campaign and engaged all stakeholders, but also delivered on his campaign promises during the first tenure which endeared him to the people.

Also delivering judgment in the election appeal in Bauchi State, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Dattijo, dismissed the appeal filed by Mohammed's predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar, because his petition lacked merit.

According to the judgment before the court can set aside the judgment of the lower court there must be evidence of perverseness, which the appellants failed to prove.

Justice Dattijo in addition agreed with the decision of the lower court which expunged the evidence of some witnesses of the appellants on the grounds that their evidence in Hausa language was not tendered alongside the translated version tendered before the court.

Reacting to the judgment, Mohammed urged the defeated APC governorship candidate to join hands with his administration in developing the state.

Also, the state chapter of the PDP lauded the Supreme Court judges "for ensuring that justice prevailed in their verdict."

Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah in Abuja, Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi, Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano

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