The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, seeking to affirm its candidate, Abba Yusuf, as governor of Kano.
Justice John Okoro who led the five-member panel of justices reserved the judgment after counsels involved in the matter met and agreed on which of the nine appeals and cross appeals that should be heard, with the outcome binding on the remaining eight.
This counsel’s consensus was reached to make the main appeal with suit number SC/CV/1179 to be heard together with the cross appeals that were questioning the membership of Abba Yusuf and all parties will abide with the outcome.
He said that a date would be communicated to the parties.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja had sacked Abba Yusuf as governor of Kano State, upholding the decision of the election petition tribunal that earlier nullified the governor’s election.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Moore Adumein, in a unanimous judgement, declared Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress, APC, winner of the 18 March governorship election in Kano State.
The tribunal had declared Gawuna of the APC the winner of the election after invalid votes cast in favour of Yusuf.
But the Court of Appeal, in addition to that, disqualified Yusuf as a candidate in the election, on the grounds that he was not a member of the NNPP as of the time of the election.
The court added that without being a member of a political party, Yusuf could not have been validly nominated to run for the election in March.
“Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP as of the time he was purportedly sponsored for 18 March Kano State governorship election,” the judge ruled.
“The tribunal was wrong not to have disqualified the appellant. The failure of NNPP to properly sponsor Yusuf according to Section 177 (c) of the constitution is fatal to their case.
“All the nine issues are hereby resolved against the appellant,” the judge held.
“This appeal is hereby dismissed. The sum of N1 million is awarded as cost against the appellants,” Mr Adumein declared.
Yusuf, the incumbent governor, who had won the governorship election on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, is locked in a fierce legal battle with Nasiru Gawuna of the ruling APC, over the outcome of the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared Yusuf as the winner of the 18 March election with 1,019,602 votes against Mr Gawuna’s 890,705 votes.
Yusuf had rode on the popularity of a former governor of the state, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and his political machinery, the Kwankwasiya Movement, to defeat Gawuna of the then ruling APC in the state.
But Gawuna challenged the election outcome at the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
In September, the Kano State governorship election petition tribunal sacked Yusuf as governor of the state.
The tribunal deducted 165,663 votes from the 1,019,602 recorded for Yusuf because the ballot papers (165,663) were not stamped, signed and dated as required by law.
The tribunal then declared Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner.
Displeased with the verdict, the NNPP and its candidate, challenged the judgment at the appellate court.
On November 17, the court of appeal upheld the tribunal’s verdict and added that Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP when he contested the election.
However, controversy trailed the verdict days later when a certified true copy, CTC, of the appeal court judgment surfaced, contradicting the November 17 ruling.
The copy of the judgment ruled against and in favour of the NNPP candidate simultaneously, eliciting outrage on social media platforms and the streets.
The appeal court had issued a statement hours later, blaming “clerical error” for the contradictions or discrepancies.
The NNPP then filed a notice of appeal before the Supreme Court, seeking to quash the appellate court’s judgment.
The APC on the other hand, filed a cross-appeal at the apex court, challenging the lower court for refusing to hold that Yusuf submitted a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The court said a date for judgment would be communicated to all parties.