In a significant development, the Court of Appeal in Abuja has nullified the election of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State.
This decision comes after a unanimous verdict by a three-member panel of justices, which found that Governor Yusuf was not a valid candidate during the gubernatorial election held in the state on March 18.
The court’s ruling was based on compelling evidence presented by the parties, which established that Governor Yusuf was not a member of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) at the time of the election. According to the court, this discrepancy rendered him ineligible to contest the governorship election, as Section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, mandates candidates to be validly sponsored by their political parties.
In its lead judgment delivered by Justice M. U. Adumeh, the Court of Appeal declared, “A person must be a member of a political party before he can be sponsored for an election. Sponsorship without membership is like putting something on nothing.”
Consequently, the appellate court upheld the earlier judgment of the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which had also nullified Governor Yusuf’s election.
The tribunal, led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan-Osadebay, issued its virtual judgment on September 20, removing Governor Yusuf from office and declaring Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the valid winner of the governorship poll held on March 18.
The tribunal’s decision was based on the discovery that some ballot papers, relied upon to declare Yusuf as the winner of the gubernatorial contest, lacked the signatures and stamps of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Consequently, the tribunal declared 165,663 of the votes credited to the NNPP candidate as invalid.
After the deduction of these invalid votes, Governor Yusuf, initially declared the winner with a total of 1,019,602 votes, saw his tally reduced to 853,939 votes. This turn of events enabled his closest rival and APC candidate, Ganuwa, to emerge as the winner of the election with 890,705 votes.
Governor Yusuf, dissatisfied with the tribunal’s judgment, promptly approached the Court of Appeal, accusing the tribunal of misapplying the law in its verdict.
This decision by the Court of Appeal sets the stage for further legal proceedings and political developments in Kano State. The nullification of Governor Yusuf’s election has undoubtedly added a new dimension to the political landscape of the state and could potentially have far-reaching implications for its leadership.