Supreme Court Reserves Judgment After Intense Legal Battle in Kano Governorship Dispute

Following a six-hour legal showdown, the Supreme Court in Abuja has opted to reserve judgment in the contentious Kano State Governorship legal battle. The dispute involves the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), the All Progressives Congress (APC), and their respective governorship candidates, Kabir Yusuf and Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN urged the Supreme Court to overturn the decisions of the Appeal Court and the Tribunal. Olanipekun specifically called on the court to assess whether INEC guidelines could be a valid basis for nullifying an election won by a candidate with a margin exceeding 100,000 votes.

The senior lawyer argued that nullifying an election over unsigned or unstamped ballot papers, a first in electoral jurisprudence, goes against INEC guidelines. Governor Fubara’s legal team contended that his NNPP membership was a pre-election matter, questioning the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction.

In a counter-argument, the APC’s counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, maintained that the Electoral Act mandates INEC presiding officers to sign the back of ballot papers for them to be deemed legal. Olujimi emphasized electoral irregularities, pointing to unsigned ballot papers as a basis for canceling the election.

Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, counsel for INEC, supported Olanipekun’s arguments, asserting that the lower courts’ decisions were flawed. Mahmoud contested the tribunal’s reliance on a witness’s testimony and argued that the tribunal exceeded its powers in scrutinizing each ballot paper behind closed doors.

After hearing arguments from all parties, Justice John Inyang Okoro, heading the five-man Apex Court panel, reserved judgment on the governor’s appeal. The tribunal had previously nullified Yusuf’s election in September, citing over 160,000 invalid votes due to missing signatures and stamps on the ballot papers. The APC had alleged electoral malpractice, leading to the legal battle.

Yusuf had appealed the tribunal’s decision to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the Tribunal’s judgment, declaring Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna as the winner of the Kano State governorship poll held on March 18.

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