Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday sacked Governor Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) while declaring the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nasiru Gawuna, winner of the election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared that the NNPP polled 1,019,602 votes to defeat the APC with its candidate, Mr Gawuna, who scored 890,705 votes. The NNPP candidate thus won with a margin of 128,897 votes.
The APC had filed a petition challenging the election of Mr Yusuf.
The three-member panel of judges led by Oluyemi Asadebay delivered the judgement on Wednesday virtually.
The court invalidated over 165,663 votes printed in favour of NNPP.
The court deducted the invalid votes stating that the ballot papers (165,663) were not stamped or signed and were therefore invalid.
The tribunal said the petitioner has proven the allegation of the invalidity of some of the votes cast on the ground that the election was not in compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The tribunal therefore ordered that the invalid votes scored by Mr Yusuf be expunged from the total votes he scored.
The tribunal subsequently ordered INEC to retrieve the certificate of return earlier issued to Mr Yusuf and present it to to the APC candidate, Mr Gawuna.
The tribunal also ruled that Mr Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP before he contested and won the election, affirming that he did not follow the required procedures of becoming a member of the NNPP and accordingly not qualified to contest the election.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that the petitioners alleged irregularities during the polls, and challenged the qualification of Governor Yusuf to contest the election.
The petitioner’s lawyer, Mr Fagge, while making his final submissions in court, argued that the governor was not a registered member of the NNPP as of the time he contested and was declared the winner of the election.
He tendered the INEC-certified copy of the NNPP membership register to substantiate his claim.
“In law, before you contest any election, you must be a member of a political party. In the Electoral Act 2022, section 75 made it clear that all political parties shall submit their register to INEC not later than 30 days before the conduct of their party’s primary election. The name of the governor is missing in the certified true copy of the NNPP register issued by INEC,” Mr Fagge argued.
He dismissed the alternate membership register brought by the NNPP, arguing that it was belatedly updated at the ward level after the APC had filed its petition.
He added that the register fell short of the prescription of the law and INEC’s standards.
The APC lawyer also tendered over 270,000 ballot papers thumbprinted in favour of the NNPP.
He argued that the ballot papers were certified by INEC but were neither signed, stamped nor dated, and were therefore invalid.