COMPLETE RUNDOWN: State governors removed by the court and the underlying reasons.

Busy Bee
Busy Bee November 20, 2023
Updated 2023/11/20 at 11:26 PM

In a ruling handed down on Sunday, the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Elphreda Williams-Dawodu, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to retract the Certificate of Return issued to Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State. The court declared Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress as the rightful winner of the March 18 governorship election, instructing INEC to issue a new Certificate of Return to him. This decision adds to the growing trend of courts overturning election results, with at least three governors losing their positions due to contested elections within nine months of the polls.

Here is a breakdown of the overturned elections and the reasons provided by the court:

  1. Abba Kabir Yusuf (NNPP):
    • Initial Outcome: The NNPP candidate secured 1,019,602 votes, defeating the APC candidate, Nasir Gawuna, who received 890,705 votes.
    • Court Decision: The Election Petitions Tribunal, led by Justice Oluyemi Osadebay, nullified Governor Yusuf’s election, citing the invalidation of 165,663 votes due to unsigned or unstamped ballot papers.
    • Consequence: The court ordered the revocation of Yusuf’s Certificate of Return and the issuance of a new one to Gawuna.
    • Additional Ruling: The Court of Appeal in Abuja upheld the tribunal’s decision, emphasizing that Yusuf was not on his party’s membership list, a violation of the Electoral Act.

Despite these rulings, Abba Kabir Yusuf has expressed determination to challenge the decisions and reclaim his mandate at the Supreme Court.

Abdullahi Sule, a member of the APC, faced removal from the position of Nasarawa State Governor after the Election Petitions Tribunal ruled against him in October. The tribunal instructed INEC to nullify Sule’s Certificate of Return and award it to David Ombugadu of the PDP. Ombugadu contested the election results, claiming that his votes were unfairly reduced while Sule’s were inflated, especially in the EC8Bs of Gayam and Chiroma Wards in Lafia Local Government Area.

The tribunal, under the leadership of Justice Ezekiel Ajayi, made its decision by deducting the incorrect votes from Sule and reinstating the votes that were wrongly deducted from Ombugadu, relying on certified copies of polling unit results (forms EC8A) provided by the petitioners. The Court of Appeal in Abuja reserved judgment on the appeal on November 15.

In the case of Dauda Lawal from the PDP, INEC initially declared him the winner of the Zamfara State governorship election, defeating the incumbent APC governor, Bello Matawalle. Matawalle contested the results on March 18, but the tribunal dismissed the case for lack of merit. On November 16, the Court of Appeal declared the election inconclusive and directed INEC to conduct new elections in two local governments, citing Lawal’s invalid election as established by Matawalle. The Minister of State for Defence, Matawalle, is reviewing the judgment before deciding on the next steps.

Caleb Mutfwang of the PDP faced a challenge from Nentawe Goshwe of the APC, who claimed that Mutfwang was not validly nominated and sponsored by his party. The tribunal, led by Justice R. Irele-Ifijeh, unanimously dismissed Goshwe’s petition for lacking merit. However, on November 19, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, ruled that the governor was not legitimately sponsored by the PDP for the election, citing Section 177 of the Constitution.

The judge highlighted that the PDP neglected to comply with an existing High Court directive, requiring the party to conduct a lawful party congress prior to endorsing candidates for governorship and other positions.

Mutfwang, having instructed his legal team to file an appeal with the Supreme Court, remains optimistic about the restoration of the mandate entrusted to him by the people of the state.

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