The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the elections of Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State); Darius Ishaku (Taraba State) and Abubakar Bello (Niger State).
In four separate judgments, a seven-man panel, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, held that the appellants failed to prove their cases.
Justice Centus Nweze, who read the lead judgment on Delta State election, held that Great Ogboru, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), failed to prove his allegation of irregularities.
Justice Nweze agreed with the submissions of Damian Dodo (for Okowa); Akinlolu Kehinde (for PDP), and John Baiyeshea (for Independent National Electoral Commission), that the appeal was a waste of the court’s time.
He agreed with Kehinde that Ogboru, who challenged the elections in 896 polling units, only called witnesses in respect of five units.
Kehinde noted that although Ogboru tendered voters’ registers, he failed to demonstrate and link them with his case.
Justice Nweze said there was no reason for the court to tamper with the decisions of the two lower courts – the tribunal and Court of Appeal – which upheld Okowa’s election.
He said: “This appeal is a waste of the court’s time. There is no merit in the appeal and it is hereby dismissed. I hereby uphold the election of the first respondent (Okowa) as the validly elected governor of Delta State.
Other members – Rodes-Vivour; Musa Datijo Muhammad; Amina Augie; Paul Galumje; Ejembi Eko and Uwani Abba-Aji – agreed.
Justice Galumje, who read the lead judgment on Abia election, agreed with Ikpeazu’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), that the appellant, Alex Otti, of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), failed to prove his case.
The judge noted that Otti’s reliance on card reader report, in his attempt to prove his claim of over voting, was not helpful.
He said the position of the law was that card reader report had not displaced voters’ register in proving over-voting, following Section 46 of the Electoral Act, which provides for manual accreditation.
Justice Galumje held that Otti failed to demonstrate the documentary evidence he tendered, but merely dumped them on the tribunal.
In dismissing the appeal against Ishaku’s re-election in Taraba State, Justice Ejembi Eko held that it was wrong for APC to have queried the outcome when it had no candidate in the election.
Justice Eko, who noted that APC’s candidate Abubakar Danladi was disqualified before the election, and was not replaced, said the party could not be said to have participated in the election.
He said the court had held that candidates win election and not parties, and as such ‘the party, whose candidate was disqualified, did not validly participate in the election.
“The appeal is mere academic exercise. It is an abuse of court process and is dismissed,” he said.
Justice Abba-Aji, who read the lead judgment in the appeal by Umar Nasko of PDP, against Bello’s election, held that the appeal was without merit.
She noted that since the tribunal’s judgment, which was delivered outside the prescribed time, had been voided by the lower court, it was wrong for the appellant to seek to benefit from it.
“No party can benefit from a judgment declared a nullity,” she said, and proceeded to dismiss the appeal. She added that the judgment also applied to two other appeals – SC/1452/2019 and SC/1451/2019 – similar to the one decided.