The Supreme Court reserved its decision on Tuesday in the fierce legal battle that is still raging over the Nasarawa State gubernatorial election. The All Progressives Congress (APC) governor Abdullahi Sule is facing off against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate for governor, Hon. Emmanuel David Ombugadu, in court.
Kanu Agabi, SAN, the principal attorney for the PDP and its candidate for governor, filed an appeal with the supreme court on Tuesday to overturn the Court of Appeal’s November 23 ruling upholding Sule’s election as the legitimate governor. Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Agabi urged to reinstate the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal’s October 2, 2023 ruling, which favoured Ombugadu and the PDP.
Agabi claimed that Sule had been declared the victor of the March 18 gubernatorial election, and that the Court of Appeal had unfairly overturned the Tribunal’s decision. In particular, he pleaded with the Supreme Court to recognise the votes of the people of Nasarawa by naming PDP and Ombugadu as the winners, in accordance with the Tribunal’s decision.
In response, the Governor, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and APC urged the court to dismiss the appeal, citing a lack of merit. APC lawyers, led by Akin Olujinmi SAN, presented their arguments, requesting a thorough examination of legal authorities supporting their call for dismissal.
After considering arguments from both sides, Justice Kekere-Ekun announced the reservation of judgment, with the date for its delivery to be communicated to the concerned parties.
The Court of Appeal had, on November 23 of the previous year, overturned the removal of Sule by the State Election Petitions Tribunal in its October 2 judgment. The appellate court criticized the Tribunal for its erroneous use of witness statements on oath, which were not front-loaded as required by law, leading to the annulment of the governor’s election.
Justice Uchechukwu Onyemenam, delivering the judgment at the Court of Appeal, emphasized that the Tribunal had acted in grave error by not adhering to the stipulated 21-day period for front-loaded witness statements. The Court dismissed over-voting allegations, stating they were not legally established, and ruled that the PDP’s petition was null and invalid due to the Tribunal’s failure to address jurisdictional issues raised by the governor.
In conclusion, the Court of Appeal reversed all orders against the governor, affirming Abdullahi Sule as the duly elected governor of Nasarawa State.