By Aliyu Dangida
The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja has slated tomorrow Friday November 19, 2023 for judgement on the governorship election dispute between Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of the NNPP and Nasiru Gawuna of the APC.
This was revealed in a short note by Sanusi Bature, the chief press secretary of Governor Yusuf on Thusday.
It could be recalled that on September 20, 2023, the Kano Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had nullified the election of Mr Yusuf by declaring 165,663 of his votes invalid, saying they were not signed or stamped by INEC.
INEC had declared Mr Yusuf winner of the March 18, 2023 election after he secured 1,019,602 votes against his opponent Nasiru Gawuna who secured 890,705 votes.
However, after the tribunal deducted the 165,663 votes from Mr Yusuf’s tally, his votes were reduced to 853, 939, which were over 30,000 votes less than the 890,705 votes polled by Mr Gawuna.
Consequently, the court declared the APC candidate winner of the governorship election and ordered the INEC to withdraw Mr Yusuf’s certificate of return and give Gawuna a new one.
But Mr Yusuf and his party the NNPP as well as the INEC appealed the tribunal’s judgement.
At the last court hearing the governor’s lead counsel, Wole Olanipekun SAN had prayed the court to allow the appellant’s appeal and set aside in its entirety, the judgement of the lower Tribunal.
The Counsel argued that the lower Tribunal has created new precedents which depart from all the judgments made by the appellate or Supreme Court.
On the issue of ballot papers, he contended that this is the first time in the history of the court that a Tribunal will annul an election over non-signing of the back of ballot papers.
“In doing that, the lower Tribunal erred,” Olanipekun said.
He further argued that this was the first time that a political party filed a matter without joining its candidate as a party in the petition and the latter was declared winner of the polls.
“Can a political party be sworn after an election or take an oath?,” Olanipekun argued holding that the judgement of the lower Tribunal should not be allowed to stand.
Akin Olujimi SAN, counsel for APC, in his reply on the issue of valid ballot, said the decisions of the Appeal Courts right from 2009 have emphatically stated if non signing of ballots amounts to electoral malpractice.
He argued that INEC regulations have set out what presiding officers are to do at the point of voting, adding that the back of ballot papers must be signed and dated.