Adamawa: S’Court Dismisses SDP’s Appeal against Fintiri

* Reserves judgment in Ahiwe, Emenike’s appeals against Abia Gov Otti

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the appeal by Umar Ardo of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) against the election of Umaru Fintiri as Governor of Adamawa State.

A five-member panel of the apex court dismissed the appeal shortly after being withdrawn by the appellants.

When the matter was called, a member of the panel, Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, drew the attention of the counsel to the appellants, Sylvester Imanogbe, to the fact that the appeal was incompetent and a waste of the court’s precious time, on the grounds that the petitioners did not only score a very insignificant votes of about 6,000 but did not show how the alleged noncompliance to the electoral laws and guidelines affected them or the outcome of the March 18 and April 16 rerun governorship election in Adamawa State.

Taking the hint of the court that the appeal was incompetent and also not wanting to waste the court’s time by arguing the case, Imanogbe made an oral application for the appeal.

Respondents in the appeal however did not object to the withdrawal and presiding Justice, John Okoro, subsequently dismissed the appeal.

Meanwhile, the apex court is yet to hear the appeal of Senator Aishatu Dahiru Benani of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against Fintiri’s election.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had in November 2023, dismissed the appeal by Ardo and the SDP on the grounds that the appeal was incompetent and lacked merit.

The three-member panel, in their judgment, held that there was no persuasive evidence from the appellants upon which they could set aside the judgment of the Adamawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

Ardo, citing non-compliance with the Electoral Act, urged the tribunal to nullify the election of Fintiri as governor and conduct a fresh one. 

But the three-member tribunal led by Justice T. O. Uloho, dismissed the petition for being incompetent and not properly filed.

Dissatisfied, Ardo approached the appellate court to ventilate his anger against the judgment of the tribunal, which was however, upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Justice Ugochukwu Ogaku, who delivered the judgment of the Appeal Court, agreed with the tribunal that the appellants did not prove the allegations of corrupt practices and non-compliance to the Electoral Act against INEC, adding that there was no basis to grant the appeal.

“This appeal is bereft of merit. The decision of the tribunal dismissing the petition is hereby affirmed. The parties are to bear their costs,” the court held.

Similarly, the apex court observed that the case of the appellants was not worthy of the court’s time and advised the counsel to withdraw the appeal.

The apex court has also reserved judgment in two separate appeals challenging the declaration of Alex Otti as Governor of Abia State.

Judgment in the appeals filed by the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Okechukwu Ahiwe and his counterpart in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ikechi Emenike, were reserved shortly after their respective lawyers argued their briefs and were also countered by the respondents.

INEC had declared Otti of the Labour Party (LP) winner of the March 18 governorship election, on grounds that he won majority of the lawful votes cast at the poll.

Citing alleged irregularities, malpractices and noncompliance with the electoral laws, both the PDP and APC in their separate petitions had approached the Abia State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to seek the nullification of Otti’s election.

However, the tribunal in his judgment in the two petitions held that the allegations were not proved and subsequently dismissed them for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

The Court of Appeal, after going through the appeals of Ahiwe and Emenike, concluded just like the tribunal that the separate appeals were incompetent and lacking in merit and also dismissed it for lacking merit.

Dissatisfied, Ahiwe and Emenike filed the instant appeals at the apex court which has been reserved for judgment.

While the appeal of Ahiwe is marked: SC/CV/1250/2023, that of Emenike is SC/CV/1252/2023.

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