Supreme Court upholds Okowa, Bello, Ishaku, Ikpeazu elections

• Dismisses appeals against their elections

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, upheld the elections of Ifeanyi Okowa, Abubakar Sani Bello, Darius Ishaku and Okezie Ikpeazu as the duly elected governors of Delta, Niger, Taraba and Abia States respectively.

The seven-member panel of Justices of the apex court, led by Justice Bode Rhode-Vivour, gave judgments in the appeals after parties adopted their briefs of arguments in the matter.

Delivering judgement in the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Delta State, Great Ogboru and his party, challenging Okowa’s election, Justice Celtus Nweze agreed with the lower courts that the appellants failed to prove the allegations in their petition and consequently dismissed the appeal.

Nweze said, the appeal was a share waste of the precious time of the court, saying there was no merit in the appeal and upheld the decisions of the two lower courts, which affirmed Okowa’s election.

A five-member panel of justices of the appellate court led by Justice Uzo Ndukwe-Anyanwu had, in a judgment, upheld the decision of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which had earlier affirmed the election of Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), having dismissed the appeals challenging his election, for lacking in merit.

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In the same vein, the apex court struck out an appeal challenging the election of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger state in the March 2019 election.

The appeal filed by Umar Mohammed Nasco of the PDP was struck out by the apex court for lacking in merit.

Delivering judgement in the appeal, Justice Mary Uwani Abaji held that the Supreme Court will not tamper with the concurrent decisions of both the Court of Appeal and the state governorship election petition tribunal, which earlier dismissed the appeal against Gov. Bello’s election.

In the unanimous judgement, Justice Abaji held that the Court of Appeal was right in holding that the decision of the tribunal delivered outside the 180 days allowed by law was a nullity.

She further held that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal and consequently struck it out for want of jurisdiction.

Nasco had challenged the election of Governor Bello at the tribunal on the ground that the governor submitted forged documents and gave false information in his form CF001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission to secure clearance for the March 9, 2019 election.

The tribunal, however, failed to deliver judgement in the petition within 180 days allowed by law, prompting the Appeal Court to declare judgement of the tribunal a nullity, having been delivered outside the required period.

Similarly, the apex court, in a unanimous judgement yesterday dismissed the appeal against the election of Darius Ishaku of Taraba state.

In a judgment read by Justice Ejembi Ekwo, the court held that the appellant, the APC cannot challenge the outcome of an election it did not field any candidate.

The court held that the appellant, whose candidate was disqualified did not participate in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Taraba state.

“The reality of the situation is that the petition filed before the state election petition tribunal was incompetent.

“This appeal is an invitation on the apex court to embark on a wasteful exercise. This appeal, been an academic exercise is hereby dismissed “, the court held.

The court also upheld the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, having dismissed the appeal by the Candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Alex Otti and his party, APGA, asking to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal which upheld Ikpeazu’s election.

In the judgement delivered by Justice Hamiru Sanusi, the apex court agreed with the lower courts that the appellant failed to prove the allegations in their petition against Ikpeazu’s election.

Justice Sanusi held in the unanimous judgement that the apex court cannot tamper with decisions of the lower court except where the findings are perverse or where there is a miscarriage of Justice.

According to Sanusi, “the lower court was right in dismissing the appeal,” he said and affirmed the judgement of the appellate court.

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