By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed the elections of Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu of Lagos State, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State..
Other state governors whose elections were also affirmed include; Katsina, Nasarawa, Lagos, Ogun and Kaduna
The apex court in a unanimous judgment held that the various governors were lawfully elected as governors of their respective states.
In affirming Makinde’s election, the apex court agreed with the submissions of Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, that the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal which nullified the judgment of the Oyo State Election Petition Tribunal was flawed.
In a four-to-one majority judgment the court of appeal had voided the tribunal’s judgment on the grounds that the tribunal’s decision was perverse because the petitioner , Adebayo Adelabu, of the All Progressive Congress (APC) was denied fair hearing in the matter.
However the apex court upheld the submissions of Olanipekun that the tribunal’s judgment was in order and that no party was denied fair hearing throughout the period of the hearing.
Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment, agreed with the senior lawyer that the the majority judgment was not in line with the position of the law, unlike that of the minority judgment which he said was more sober.
Justice Eko therefore allowed the appeal, set aside the judgment of the lower court and restored the decision of the tribunal as prayed by the appellant.
Makinde had appealed the judgment of the Court of Appeal which had set aside the judgment of the tribunal which upheld his election as governor of Oyo State.
In the Katsina case, the apex court upheld the submissions of Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, that the first respondent, Bello Masari was eminently qualified for the March 9 governorship election.
The court also agreed with Fagbemi that the appellant did not challenge the basic qualification of the governor, other than mere allegations of submitting false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for his clearance for the said election.
Justice Mary Peter-Odili, while delivering the lead judgment held that the appeal by Senator Yakubu Lado, was devoided of merit and substance, and accordingly upheld the concurrent judgment of the tribunal and Appeal Court which upheld the election of Masari as governor of Katsina State.
Others whose election were also upheld, are that of Governor Nasir el-Rufai and Governor Abdullahi Sule, Kaduna and Nasarawa States respectively.
The apex court in its unanimous judgment held that the appeal filed by Isa Hashiru, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9 governorship election challenging the victory of el-Rufai of the All Progressive Congress (APC) lacked merit.
Similarly, that of another PDP candidate in Nasarawa State, David Ombugadu against the election of Governor Abdullahi Sule of the APC was also dismissed for lacking merit.
According to the judgment of the apex court, the appellants in the two different appeals failed to substantiate their claims of irregularities and substantial non compliance with the electoral laws.
The judgment also noted that the two appellants did not show evidence to warrant the setting aside of the concurrent decisions of the tribunal and Appeal Court.
The Supreme Court accordingly upheld the election of both el-Rufai and Sule as Governors of Kaduna and Nasarawa States respectively.
Reacting to the judgement, Governor Sanwo-Olu expressed joy at the Supreme Court verdict, which affirmed him as the duly elected governor of the state, saying that the victory is for the people of Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu said the judicial affirmation of his election victory will further reinforce his desire to vigorously pursue his vision of bequeathing a legacy of a Greater Lagos to the residents at the end of his tenure.
Sanwo-Olu in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said he had absolute confidence in the judiciary, knowing that it would adjudicate on the side of the people of Lagos who freely gave him the mandate to administer the State on their behalf for the four year tenure.
‘’As the last hope of the common man, I was never in doubt that the judiciary would do what is right and what is just. The people of Lagos spoke loudly through their votes on the day of election and their action gave us victory. We remain thankful and indebted to them,’’ the governor said.