By IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA—A five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court, Wednesday, okayed a petition seeking to sack Governor Saidu Nasamu of Kebbi State, from office on the premise that his re-election was in violation of the Electoral Act.
Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and its candidate in the April 26 governorship election in the state, Malam Abubakar Abubakar, had gone to the apex court to challenge the position of the Sokoto Division of the Appeal Court on the matter.
The governor had successfully persuaded the appellate court to terminate further proceeding at the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State, which was presiding over the petition filed against him by the opposition party on May 18.
He challenged the legal propriety of the petition, which he said was legally defective and incompetent, considering that it was commenced via a letter rather than a motion.
Besides, he argued that CPC’s non-compliance with the provisions of paragraph 18(1) of the first schedule of the Electoral Act constituted an abandonment of the petition, saying it ought to be dismissed.
Following judgment of the appellate court, which upheld his arguments and allowed the appeal, CPC, proceeded to the apex court to seek redress.
Delivering judgment on the matter, yesterday, Justice Francis Tabai, who led other four Justices of the apex court, observed that “Paragraph 14 (1) of the third schedule of the Electoral Act 2010 subscribes the type of application that comes by way of motion. This application was filed before Paragraph 47 (1) of the third schedule of the electoral Act was enacted.
“There is a conflicting judgment handed down by the court of appeal in this matter. This appeal succeeds and, therefore, sets aside the court of appeal ruling. I, therefore, order that the matter be restored back to the election petition tribunal in Kebbi State.”
Justice Tabai further noted that there should be a sort of legislation to exclude the time spent in deciding interlocutory appeals up to the Supreme Court.
According to him, “lawyer to the petitioner/appellant had informed this court that time will soon lapse for the petition at the tribunal and that they were at the address stage before hearing was halted.
“I agree with him that if that happens, it will no doubt affect substantial justice on the matter.”
Consequently, he advised lawyers representing politicians in electoral matters to eschew unnecessary technicalities, stressing that in the absence of such legislation, common sense should be applied with a view to ensuring that interlocutory issues were taken alongside the main appeal.
Meanwhile, counsel to CPC, Mr. Sam Kargbo, yesterday asked the apex court for an enrolled order to be served on the tribunal since it had barely four more days to conclude sitting on gubernatorial election disputes in the state.
In its suit, CPC specifically pleaded the tribunal to nullify the governorship election and order a fresh election, alleging that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, connived with corrupt officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the state to rig the governor back to office.