- Upholds Okowa, Gaidam, Ajimobi’s elections
The Supreme Court will today hear and determine the three pending appeals before it over governorship election petitions that arose from the April 11 polls.
The apex court will be delivering its judgement on the appeal of the governor of Abia state, Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal Owerri division that nullified his election and declared Alex Otti of APGA winner of the governorship polls.
Similarly, Minister of Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan of All Progressive Congress, APC is before the apex court challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal that upturned the decision of the tribunal sitting in Abuja that declared her the duly elected governor of Taraba state, sending the incumbent governor Darius Ishaku packing.
Also, the court will today settle the Akwa Ibom governorship dispute between governor Udom Emmanuel of PDP and his closest rival, Umana Umana of the APC.
Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel had challenged the nullification of his election by the Court of Appeal which in Abuja ordered a fresh election in all the lo¬cal government areas of the state.
The Appeal Court cancelled the entire April 11, 2015 governorship election that produced Governor Em¬manuel of the Peoples Democratic Par¬ty on account of gross irregularities in the election.
Consequently, the court in a unani¬mous judgment ordered that a fresh election be conducted within 90 days in compliance with the Electoral Act 2010.
Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Umana Okon Umana, the appellate court set aside the judgment of the State Election Petition Tribunal delivered Oc¬tober 21, which nullified the election in 18 out of the 31 local government areas of the state.
A panel of five justices of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Oludotun- Okojie held that, having established that the irregularities in the election were state-wide, the tribunal ought not to have spared the remaining 13 local government areas.
The appellate court justices held that the evidence from all parties showed that there was no collation during the purported election and as such, elec¬tion cannot be said to have been con¬ducted under that circumstances.
Jutice Oludotun-Okojie also said that the non-substantial compliance with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election, entitled the lower tribu¬nal to have nullified the entire election held in the state.
According to the court, there was no dispute that the votes cast on the elec¬tion day exceeded the number of ac¬credited voters for the election, adding also that in the face of the malpractices, Governor Emmanuel could not have been said to have scored the majority of the lawful votes cast.
According to her, while 437, 128 voters were accredited for the elec¬tion, over 1, 222, 885 votes were said to have been cast, showing an excess of 685, 780 votes accredited for the poll.
From simple arithmetic, no one needs a soothsayer to conclude that there was over voting in the entire elec¬tion in the state.
The APC governorship candidate, Umana Okon Umana had appealed against the judgment of the state gov¬ernorship election petition tribunal, which on October 21 cancelled the poll in 18 LGAs and upheld election in the remaining 13 local government areas in the state.
In the appeal argued by his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Uma¬na prayed the court for cancellation of the entire election, in view of the fail¬ure of the Independent National Elec¬toral Commission, INEC, to comply with the Electoral Act and guidelines for the election.
He said INEC’S document showing the over voting was not disputed by any of the parties in the matter.
Upholds Govs Gaidam, Ajimobi, Okowa’s elections
Meanwhile, the Court yesterday said Senator Abiola Ajimobi was duly elected Governor of Oyo State in the April 11, 2015 governorship election held in the state.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgment of a seven-member panel of justices headed by Justice Walter Onnoghen, dismissed the appeal by Rasheed Ladoja of Accord Party, AP, challenging Ajimobi’s victory in the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Justice Clara Binta Ogunbiyi, who delivered the judgement, held that Ladoja’s appeal before the court lacked merit and constituted gross abuse of court process.
She also held that reasons for the decision of the court will be given on Monday February 15, 2016.
In the same vein, the apex court also upheld the election of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Justice John Inyang Okoro held that the appeal filed by Chief Great Ogboru of Labour Party and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor lacked merit and was accordingly dismissed.
Similarly, in a judgment delivered yesterday, the court held that Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam was validly elected governor of Yobe State.
The judgment delivered by Justice Mary Peter Odili held that the appeal challenging Gaidam’s election brought before the court by Adamu Maina Waziri of the PDP lacked merit and was accordingly dismissed.
The court reserved reasons for all the judgments on Monday, February 15.