The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the appeal of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, INEC and APC, challenging the decision of the court of appeal allowing PDP governorship candidate, Abba Yusuf, to present witnesses at the election petition tribunal.
The five-man panel, led by Justice Mary Odili, unanimously upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal directing the tribunal to allow the “omitted” witnesses heard.
On July 29, the Court of Appeal, Kaduna Division granted the application filed by the PDP and its governorship candidate, Abba Yusuf, seeking to present omitted witnesses before the Kano Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
The interlocutory application was filed following July 16 ruling of the tribunal in Kano, which disqualified eight key witnesses of the PDP from testifying before it.
The names of eight witnesses, including the state chairman of the PDP Rabiu Bichi and a local government party leader Umar Tanko who allegedly witnessed the disputed Gama election result snatching, were omitted in the list of witnesses despite having their oath of affidavit as part of content of the suit.
On September 18, the respondents — INEC, APC and the governor of the state, Abdullahi Ganduje — adopted their final written addresses, and petitioners — Abba Yusuf and PDP — adopted their response on written addresses.
The chairman of the tribunal, Halima Shamaki, said the panel was conscious of the deadline of 180 days provided by the Electoral Act, hence the resolve to tidy her work and deliver judgement within the timeframe.
In their arguments during the presentation, all the respondents’ counsels: Ofiong Ofiong SAN, Alex Ezinyon and Ahmed Raji SAN had unanimously requested the tribunal to dismiss the case as the counsel to the petitioners did not prove their claims.
But, in response to the submissions of all the respondents, the counsel to PDP and its candidate Kanu Agabi, SAN cited a point of reference from the content of INEC’s final written address that the electoral umpire had proved the petitioners claim of conducting a free, fair and credible election on the March 9, 2019.
Mr Agabi further stressed that INEC had admitted in its final address that the PDP candidate was leading with lawful votes and that results were collated and announced.
According to him, INEC has later decided to cancel 207 polling units which is contrary to the provision of the law.
“INEC has announced the result of the 9th March, so to us this case is very simple, all we pray from the honourable tribunal is the declaration of a winner based on the lawful votes cast, which is the PDP candidate Engr. Abba K Yusuf as contained in our evidence number one, a certified true copy of the state collation result sheet issued by the INEC itself,” he said.
However, Mr Ganduje’s counsel, Ofiong Ofiong, argued that for PDP to claim victory of the March 9 election, the party must provide scores of all polling units in the state.
After the arguments, Justice Shamaki reserved judgment and adjourned the sitting sine die.