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Supreme Court Condemns Appellate Court’s “Perverse” Judgments, Reinstates Governors 

Calls For  Judicial Reforms Over Sack Of  Plateau Legislators

Daud Olatunji

In a groundbreaking series of judgments, the Supreme Court criticized the Court of Appeal for its allegedly flawed decisions in governorship election petitions across eight states.

Specifically, the apex court overturned the nullification of elections in Kano, Plateau, and Zamfara, branding the lower court’s rulings as “perverse.”

Kano: Abba Yusuf’s Victory Restored

The Supreme Court, led by Justice John Okoro, rebuked the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the Kano State governorship election.

The apex court argued that the appellate court erred in deducting votes from Yusuf based on unsigned and unstamped ballot papers, emphasizing that the Electoral Act did not support such deductions.

The Court also emphasized that issues of party membership, nomination, and sponsorship were pre-election matters beyond the lower court’s jurisdiction.

Plateau: Caleb Mutfwang Vindicated

Similarly, the Supreme Court set aside the Court of Appeal’s decision nullifying the election of Governor Mutfwang in Plateau State.

 The apex court asserted that the lower court had no jurisdiction to delve into the primary election issues, and the validity of nomination and sponsorship were insufficient grounds to annul an election.

 The Court also criticised the legal profession, cautioning that it needed to “wake up” to avoid rendering itself irrelevant.

Zamfara: Dauda Lawal’s Triumph Upheld

In yet another resounding decision, the Supreme Court restored the victory of Governor Dauda Lawal in the Zamfara State governorship election. Justice Agim, delivering the lead judgment, declared the appellate court’s decision as having “no evidential foundation” and set it aside. 

The Supreme Court emphasized the petitioners’ failure to provide sufficient evidence of irregularities, non-compliance, and corrupt practices.

These landmark rulings by the Supreme Court reaffirm the principles of electoral jurisprudence, emphasizing the limited jurisdiction of lower courts in internal party matters. 

The decisions also underscore the importance of presenting substantial evidence in election petitions, sending a strong message to the legal community to uphold the integrity of the electoral process.

 

Urges Judicial Reforms After Appellate Court’s Blow To Legislators

 Presiding Justice John Okoro expressed lamentation over the detrimental consequences of the appellate court’s wrongful decisions that led to the removal of several legislators who secured victories on the PDP platform. 

Justice Helen Ogunwumiju also criticised the appellate court for delving into nomination and sponsorship issues, contrary to established apex court decisions barring political parties from challenging each other’s primary elections.

Constitutional lawyer and rights activist, Professor Mike Ozekhome, seized the opportunity to renew his call for a comprehensive review of the law limiting National and state houses of assembly elections to the Court of Appeal.

 He asserted that the recent judgments by the Supreme Court, overturning the decisions of the appellate court regarding the 2023 general elections, served as vindication for his persistent advocacy for judiciary reforms.

Ozekhome expressed deep concern for the legislators who suffered adverse outcomes due to their cases concluding at the appellate court, preventing them from having the wrongful judgments reversed. 

The Appeal Court had ousted PDP legislators based on a flawed primary held in violation of a Plateau State High Court order.

 However, the Supreme Court rebuked the appellate court’s intervention in scrutinizing the sponsorship of these legislators, emphasising that the High Court’s order had no jurisdictional weight and was duly complied with by the PDP through the organisation of a fresh election. 

The apex court, therefore, declared the legislative removals unwarranted and outside the scope of the appellate court’s authority.

 

 

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