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UPDATE: S’Court Fixes Jan. 20 For Judgment On Kano Guber Tussle

The Supreme Court has slated January 20, 2020, for judgment on the Kano State governorship election tussle arising from the March 9, 2019 election held in the state.

A seven-man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, fixed the date on Tuesday after hearing the appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] and its candidate Kabir Abba-Yusuf.

Abba-Yusuf has appealed to the apex court challenging the victory of the All Progressives Congress [APC] candidate, Abdullahi Ganduje as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC].

PDP/Abba-Yusuf had appealed to the Supreme Court after both the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal upheld the election of Ganduje.

Speaking through his lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, the PDP candidate argued that he scored the highest votes at the governorship contest that held on March 9, 2019, and satisfied section 179 (2) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

He alleged that the Kano State Returning Officer had after results of 44 Local Government Areas were declared, cancelled results in 207 polling units in the state and declared the election as inconclusive and scheduled a re-run election for March 23, 2019.

He asked the court to set-aside the concurrent judgements of both the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which dismissed his petition and affirmed Ganduje as the valid winner of the election.

In the concluding remarks, he asked the court to determine “whether the decision and action of the Returning Officer, who in exercise of his powers under section 179 (2) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution, section 69 of the Electoral Act and paragraph 41 of the Regulations & Guidelines of INEC, who after announcing results of 44 LGAs in Kano, cancelled the results already recalled at the Polling Units, collated at the Wards, LGA and the State, is not illegal”.

Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Otti Vs Ikpeazu, He argued that the action of the Returning Officer was illegal and unconstitutional.

“Therefore, the result of the scheduled second election, being predicated on a null and void decision of the Returning Officer, cannot produce lawful votes” he contended.

According to him, “The only lawful votes at the Kano State governorship election are those announced by the Returning Officer on March 11, in Form EC8D”.

However, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which was cited as the 1st Respondent in the appeal, urged the apex court to dismiss the case and uphold the judgements of the two lower courts.

INEC’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji, SAN, told the court that contrary to the submission of the Appellant, the Kano State Returning Officer never cancelled votes.

He maintained that evidence on record showed that the Returning Officer was prevented by agents of the PDP from collating results in some areas.

Likewise, governor Ganduje, through his lawyer, M.N. Duru, prayed the court to dismiss the appeal with a cost of N5 million for want of merit.

He argued that as at March 11, the Presiding Officer, could not have declared any candidate as winner, adding that out of the 207 polling units, 62 of them were for Gama Ward where he said PDP agents blocked INEC officials from collating results.

Ganduje told the apex court that one of the PDP agents he identified as Dr. Yakassi, had in his evidence as PW-30 at the tribunal, admitted that he catered away original results and other sensitize INEC material, locked himself in a room with a pen for over one hour and claimed he later took the results to the police station.

“Allowing this appeal will mean the sanctioning of election violence and giving credit to someone who had clearly violated the law and admitted same in his Evidence in Chief and Cross-Examination”.

Ganduje told the court that an expert witness that was brought by the PDP had at the tribunal, admitted that INEC was right in its decision to cancel results from 77 Wards.

On its part, the APC, through its lawyer, Dr. Alex Iziyon, SAN, also urged the court to dismiss the appeal.

After it had listened to all the parties and heard a Cross-Appeal marked SC/1498/19, which was filed by Ganduje, the CJN-led panel, reserved its judgement till January 20.

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