Judgements Sacking Govs Should Be Reviewed – Femi Falana, SAN

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Femi Falana, SAN, has called for a review of the appellate court judgments that led to the removal of Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State and Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State. Falana argued that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not fulfill its responsibility to conduct proper elections in the country.

Expressing his concern, Falana emphasized the need for election matters to be concluded before the inauguration of incoming administrations. In the past week, the appellate court nullified the victories of three governors declared winners by INEC in the March 2023 polls, all of whom were from opposition parties.

The court specifically sacked Abba Yusuf of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) and declared Nasir Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner in Kano State. In Zamfara, the court declared the election inconclusive, ordering INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas. In Plateau State, the court removed Caleb Mutfwang and directed INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Nentawe Goshwe of the APC, citing a violation of the court order regarding a valid congress in the state.

Despite these developments, the appellate court affirmed the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC in Lagos State. Falana suggested that those dissatisfied with the appellate court judgments have the option to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“If you look at what happened in Lagos is different from what happened in Plateau. You are being told in Plateau that there was a judgement of the high court to the effect that primaries have to be conducted. The judgement, as usual, was dishonoured and disobeyed and the election went on,” the senior lawyer said.

He said the political class must learn to comply with the decision of the court.

“It is different from Kano where you are being told that voters can be punished. It is a very dangerous judicial policy to sanction voters for the mistake of electoral officers. We are being told that 165,000 votes are wasted, they are invalid because some electoral officers committed an error by not stamping them. How does that affect the validity of election?

“I do hope that this time around the Supreme Court will resolve these needless controversies surrounding the non-stamping of ballot papers by INEC officials who have not been recommended for any sanction.

“This is why these judgements will have to be reviewed.”