The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf, challenging his removal by the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
This development comes following a decision by a three-man panel of judges led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay, who removed Governor Yusuf from office on September 20, 2023.
The tribunal’s decision to remove Governor Yusuf was primarily based on the invalidation of 165,663 votes in his favor. These votes were declared invalid because they were not signed or stamped by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This action by the tribunal marked the first instance in Nigerian history where an election was annulled due to the non-signing of the back of ballot papers.
At the Court of Appeal on Monday, Governor Yusuf’s lead counsel, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, vehemently contested the tribunal’s judgment. He argued that the tribunal had erred in its decision and underscored the unprecedented nature of the case, emphasizing that it was the first time in history that a political party had filed a petition without joining its candidate as a party and the candidate had still been declared the winner of the polls. Olanipekun called for the tribunal’s judgment to be set aside in light of these anomalies.
In response to Olanipekun’s arguments, Akin Olujimi, SAN, representing the All Progressives Congress (APC), countered that the Appeal Courts had explicitly stated that the non-signing of ballots amounted to electoral malpractice. Olujimi’s assertion added complexity to the case and deepened the legal debate surrounding the removal of Governor Yusuf.
Following these deliberations, the Court of Appeal panel decided to reserve judgment and assured the involved parties that a specific date for the judgment would be communicated to them in due course. This decision has left political observers and the general public on edge, eagerly awaiting the outcome of the appeal that could have significant implications for the political landscape in Nigeria.
As the nation watches with bated breath, the fate of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf and the controversial decision of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal hang in the balance, awaiting the verdict of the Court of Appeal.