Abba/Gawuna Supreme Court Reserves Judgement For Kano  

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By Sabiu Abdullahi

The Supreme Court has reserved judgment on Thursday in the appeal lodged by Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State, challenging the ruling of the Appeal Court that ousted him from office.

The Justice Inyang Okoro-led five-member panel concluded the case after hearing closing arguments from both Governor Yusuf and the New Nigeria People Party (NNPP).

Governor Yusuf and the NNPP filed the appeal against the November 17 ruling of the Court of Appeal, which declared Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 26, 2023, governorship poll.

This decision upheld the earlier verdict of the electoral tribunal, which nullified Yusuf’s election based on alleged irregularities, including unsigned and unstamped ballot papers.

The tribunal, led by Justice Oluyemi Osadebay, had declared a significant number of Yusuf’s votes invalid, citing the absence of signatures and stamps by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the ballot papers.

Despite this setback, Governor Yusuf remained determined to reclaim his mandate, escalating the matter to the Supreme Court.

However, the Court of Appeal, led by Justice M.A. Adumeh, ruled that Yusuf was not qualified to contest the election due to his absence from the membership register of his political party.

The court emphasized the electoral act’s provision requiring parties to maintain lists of registered members in both hard and soft copies. Justice Adumeh noted that Yusuf failed to counter the allegation against him, raising questions about his party membership.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Yusuf’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the Supreme Court to set aside the decisions of the lower courts.

Olanipekun argued that INEC guidelines did not contemplate nullifying an election based on unsigned or unstamped ballot papers, adding that this was unprecedented in electoral jurisprudence.

The legal battle also questioned the appeal court’s verdict on Governor Yusuf’s NNPP membership, framing it as a pre-election matter beyond the appellate court’s jurisdiction.

Justice John Okoro and the five-man panel pressed Olanipekun on whether these issues were raised or determined at the lower courts, noting the importance of clarity in the legal process.

The Supreme Court’s reserved judgement leaves the political landscape of Kano State in suspense, awaiting a final decision on Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf’s appeal.

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