The storm has lifted for Kano State Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf, Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwang, and Zamfara State Governor Dauda Lawal regarding the threat to their tenure.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court reinstated their mandates, which the Court of Appeal had nullified.
The apex court also affirmed the March 8, 2023, elections of Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Alex Otti (Abia State), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Bassey Otu (Cross River), and Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi).
News of the court verdicts ignited jubilation across the affected states.
The governors themselves turned to spirituality, attributing their judicial victory to God.
Governors of Bauchi, Zamfara, Ebonyi, Plateau, and Kano were present in court to witness the proceedings. Former Plateau State governor and current Senate member, Mr. Simon Lalong, also attended.
In upholding Yusuf’s election in Kano, the Supreme Court criticized the November 17, 2023, judgment of the Court of Appeal, which had removed him from office.
The court accepted Yusuf’s appeal, marked: SC/CV/1179/2023, and overturned the Court of Appeal’s decision.
In the leading judgment, Justice John Okoro held that the Court of Appeal erred in affirming the election tribunal’s decision to cancel and deduct 165,616 votes from NNPP’s total votes. The tribunal claimed the ballot papers lacked stamps, dates, and signatures from the polling units’ presiding officers.
Justice Okoro emphasized that the tribunal wrongly applied Section 71 of the Electoral Act 2023 to declare the ballot papers invalid, as that section only pertains to result forms, not ballot papers.
He pointed out that Section 63 of the same Electoral Act does not render all ballot papers without INEC’s mark completely invalid.
Justice Okoro criticized the tribunal for deeming the ballot papers invalid without proof from the petitioners, the APC and its candidate Nasiru Gawuna, that the papers were not supplied by INEC and that the appellant induced presiding officers not to sign, stamp, and date the papers as required.
Furthermore, Justice Okoro found fault with the Court of Appeal for asserting that Yusuf was unqualified to contest the election because he was not an NNPP member at the time. He argued that issues of nomination and sponsorship are internal to a party and cannot be contested by an external party or an individual not affiliated with the party.