Adamawa Gov Tussle: Supreme Court reserves judgment on Binani’s appeal
The Supreme Court, on Monday, reserved judgment on an appeal the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate, Senator Aisha Dahiru, popularly known as Binani, filed to challenge the outcome of the governorship election that held in Adamawa State on March 18.A five-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, adjourned the matter for judgment, after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument.
Specifically, the appellants, through their legal team headed by Chief Akinolu Olujimi (SAN), prayed the court to sack Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State from office.
They urged the Supreme Court to set aside the concurrent verdicts of the Court of Appeal and the Adamawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which upheld Fintiri’s re-election.
Binani maintained that she polled the majority of valid votes cast at the election and was validly declared the winner by the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC.However, Fintiri, through his lawyer, Mr. Damian Dodo (SAN), urged the apex court to dismiss the appeal and validate his election victory.
The appellate court had, in a judgment it delivered on December 18, 2023, dismissed Senator Dahiru’s appeal, even as it awarded a cost of N1 million against her.
While affirming the election of Governor Fintiri, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the appellate court held that Senator Dahiru’s appeal was vague.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had at the end of a supplementary election held in Adamawa State, announced that Fintiri polled 430,861 votes to defeat Binani of the APC who got a total of 398,788 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the poll, Binani approached the tribunal. She alleged that the election was fraught with corrupt practices and manifest non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
She urged the Justice Theodora Obi Uloho-led tribunal to declare that she was the valid winner of the governorship election. The panel refused and dismissed her petition.
While affirming the decision of the tribunal, the appellate court, in its lead verdict that was read by Justice Ebiowei Tobi, held that the 27 grounds of appeal the APC candidate brought before it, lacked competence.
It held that the appellants failed to, by way of credible evidence, substantiate the allegations they raised against the outcome of the election. It stressed that their claim that electoral fraud took place in 14,104 polling units in the state was not proven.
More so, the court noted that the record of proceedings transmitted from the tribunal, as well as the briefs of argument that were filed by the appellants, were incomplete.
The appellate court further emphasised that only a Returning Officer at an election has the statutory power to declare the results of the election.
It will be recalled that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had earlier granted INEC the permission to prosecute its suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Adamawa State, Hudu Yunusa-Ari.
Yunusa-Ari is facing a six-count charge over alleged unlawful role he played in the Adamawa State governorship election held on March 18.
INEC had initially declared that the gubernatorial election was inconclusive and ordered a supplementary poll.
However, midway into the collation of results of the supplementary poll held on April 15, the suspended Adamawa REC, Yunusa-Ari, sidelined protocols and announced the APC candidate, Binani, as the winner.
The action elicited instant reactions. The electoral body not only voided Yunusa-Ari’s action but equally placed him on an indefinite suspension.