Highlights of Court of Appeal rulings for 2023 governorship elections

THE 2023 governorship election took place in 28 states nationwide. The election was postponed from March 11 to March 18, 2023.

Nigeria’s election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), announced winners across the states.

Soon after the results were announced, the battle shifted to the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal across the country as parties dissatisfied with the results headed for the courts.

On November 10, The ICIR reported how the tribunals ruled on cases brought before them by the parties.

Again, all aggrieved parties headed for the Appeal Court.

President of the Court of Appeal, Monica Mensem.
President of the Court of Appeal, Monica Mensem.

The ICIR’s Bankole Abe highlights the Court of Appeal rulings in 21 states where judgements have been delivered as of the time of filing this report.

Abia state

The Court of Appeal in Lagos affirmed the election of Alex Otti of the Labour Party (LP) as the duly elected governor of the state of Abia.

Otti’s victory was challenged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Okey Ahiwe and Ikechi Emenike of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

On Saturday, December 2, the three-member Appeal Court panel unanimously upheld Otti’s election victory, stating that it complied with the Election Act.

The appellate court ruled that the appellants’ petitions lacked merit because they were similar to “a comedy skit brought to a democratic setting.”

Adamawa state

On November 21, the Court of Appeal in Abuja dismissed a petition filed by the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Umar Ardo, challenging the election of Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP as Adamawa state governor.

Delivering the ruling, Ugochukwu Ogakwu affirmed the tribunal court’s decision, which dismissed Ardo’s petition for being incompetent and not properly filed.

Similarly, on Monday, December 18, the Court of Appeal in Abuja threw out the petition by the APC candidate in the election, Binani Dahiru, challenging Fintiri’s victory as the duly elected governor of Adamawa state.

Akwa Ibom

The Court of Appeal in Lagos affirmed Umo Eno’s election as the duly elected governor of Akwa Ibom state.

The appellate court dismissed three separate appeals filed against the governor’s election.

The three-member panel of justices led by Festus Obande dismissed the appeal filed by Young Progressives Party (YPP) governorship candidate Bassey Akpan and his party against INEC, Eno, and the PDP. It upheld the election petition tribunal’s September 28, 2023 ruling.

Bauchi state

The Court of Appeal in Abuja affirmed Bala Mohammed of the PDP as the winner of the Bauchi state governorship election. 

Delivering the lead judgment, Chidiebere Nwaoma Uwa on Friday, November 17, ruled that the appellants APC and its candidate, Sadique Abubakar, failed to prove the allegations of malpractices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 against Mohammed and the PDP.

Benue state 

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday, November 20, affirmed Hyacinth Alia of the APC as the winner of the governorship election in the state.

The court dismissed the appeal by the PDP and its candidate, Titus Uba.

Benue state governor, Hyacinth Alia
Benue state Governor Hyacinth Alia

The appellate court presided over by Onyekachi Otisi concluded that Uba had not established forgery charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cross River state

The Court of Appeal in Lagos affirmed Bassey Otu’s election as the Cross River state governor.

The court dismissed the appeal filed by the candidate of the PDP, Sandy Onor, challenging the tribunal’s decision delivered on September 26.

The tribunal’s ruling of September 26, which confirmed Otu as a member of the APC, was upheld by the appellate court.

Delta state

In a unanimous judgment, The Court of Appeal affirmed the election of Oborevwori of the PDP as the poll winner in Delta state. The appellate court denied the appeal filed by Ovie Omo-Agege of the APC.

The appeal was deemed to have no merit by the court.

Ebonyi state

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Friday, November 24, upheld the election of Francis Nwifuru as the duly elected governor of Ebonyi state.

In a unanimous judgment, the three-member panel of justices led by Jummai Hannatu Sankey dismissed the appeal filed by Chukwuma Ifeanyi Odii of the PDP for lacking merit.

Enugu state

The Court of Appeal in Lagos affirmed Peter Mbah’s victory as Enugu state governor.

The court dismissed the appeal filed by the LP governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, as lacking in merit and upheld the judgment delivered by the state governorship election petitions tribunal in September.

 Gombe state

The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, November 23, confirmed the election of Gombe state governor, Inuwa Yahaya.

The court dismissed the PDP’s Jibrin Barde appeal, challenging the outcome of the governorship poll in the state.

A three-member panel of the appellate court led by Y.N Orji-Agbadua affirmed Yahaya’s victory.

Kaduna state

In the case of Kaduna state, the appellate court affirmed Uba Sani of the APC as the election winner. 

Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna state
Governor Uba Sani
Photo credit: Kaduna State Government

On Friday, November 24, the three-member panel ruled that the PDP and its candidate, Isa Ashiru, failed to prove the allegations of malpractices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022.

Kano state

The Court of Appeal in Abuja sacked Abba Yusuf as Kano state governor, affirming the state’s governorship election petitions tribunal ruling.

APC is contesting Yusuf’s victory as the election winner.

The APC claimed that Yusuf’s name should have been added to the NNPP membership registry thirty days before the election.

In a judgment delivered on Friday, November 17, a three-member panel of the appellate court held that Yusuf’s party – the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) – breached the Constitution by sponsoring Yusuf, who was not a party member.

Kebbi state

The Court of Appeal in Abuja upheld the election of Nasir Idris as the duly elected governor of Kebbi state.

The court rejected the PDP and its governorship candidate Aminu Bande’s appeal, ruling that it lacked merit.

The appellate court determined all five issues in favour of the governor and against the PDP in a majority decision read by Ndukwe Anyannwu.

Lagos state

The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Wednesday, November 15, dismissed the suits filed by the governorship candidates of LP, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and the PDP, Olajide Adediran, challenging the victory of Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC in the election.

In a unanimous judgment, the panel of the appellate court, headed by Yargata Nimpar, dismissed the appeals for lacking merit.

The court held that the appellants failed to prove their allegations of forgery and non-qualification against the governor and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat.

Nasarawa state

The Court of Appeal in Abuja dismissed the Nasarawa state governorship election petition tribunal’s ruling on the election. It affirmed Abdullahi Sule of the APC as duly elected.

In its decision on Thursday, November 23, the appellate court stated that the tribunal erred in naming the PDP candidate, David Ombugadu, as the legitimate winner in the poll.

The court ruled that the tribunal did not give Sule a fair hearing.

Ogun state

The Court of Appeal, Lagos, upheld the elections of Dapo Abiodun as the duly elected governor of Ogun state.

In the majority judgment delivered by Joseph Ikyegh, the appellate court rejected the appeal filed by Ladi Adebutu, the PDP candidate.

However, the minority judgment delivered by Ane Inyang ruled in the PDP’s favour as it ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in the state within 90 days.

Plateau state

The Court of Appeal in Abuja nullified the election of Caleb Muftwang of Plateau state.

In her ruling on Sunday, November 19, 2023, the lead justice, Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, set aside the tribunal’s judgment which affirmed Mutfwang’s election.

She held that Mutfwang’s party, the PDP, violated a court order to conduct a valid congress in the state’s 17 local government areas.

Nentawe Yilwatda and APC filed a petition challenging Mutfwang’s victory in court.

Rivers state

On Tuesday, November 28, the appellate court dismissed the suit filed by the governorship candidate of the APC, Tonye Cole, challenging the victory of Siminalayi Fubara of the PDP.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision, dismissed Cole’s petition.

Governor of Rivers state, Siminalayi-Fubara
Governor of Rivers state, Siminalayi-Fubara

Nevertheless, the court criticised the tribunal’s decision to reject Cole’s petition because his party – the APC – had withdrawn its case against Fubara’s victory.

Sokoto state

The Court of Appeal upheld the election of Ahmad Aliyu as Sokoto state governor.

The appellate court dismissed a petition filed by the PDP and its candidate, Saidu Umar.

In a unanimous decision, a three-member panel of justices of the court said it found no reason to upturn the Sokoto state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal ruling, which had earlier validated Aliyu’s election victory.

Taraba state

The Court of Appeal, Abuja, dismissed the appeal of Sani Yahaya of the NNPP, challenging the election of Kefas Agbu as Governor of Taraba state.

Delivering its judgement, the appellate court held that the reliefs sought by the NNPP candidate were inconsistent, having faulted the outcome of the polls on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, yet praying the court to declare him the winner of the same election.

In a unanimous decision, the court dismissed the NNPP’s appeal for lacking merit.

The appellate court dismissed a petition from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Saidu Umar.






     

     

    Zamfara state

    The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Thursday, November 16, declared the Zamfara state governorship election inconclusive.

    The court also ordered a re-run in three local government areas (LGAs). The LGAs are Maradun, Birnin-Magaji, and Bukyun.

    In its judgment, the three-member panel of the Appeal Court held that the tribunal failed to adequately consider the evidence presented by the appellants – the APC.

    As of the time of filing this report, most of those who lost at the Appeal Court have approached the Supreme Court, hoping to get judgment in their favour.

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