Skip links

Supreme Court Verdicts On Governorship Disputes: Urgent Need for Judicial Reform To Flush Out Errant Judges.

The recent judgments of the Supreme Court in governorship election disputes have been closely monitored by the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED). It is evident from several cases that the pressure and outcry from citizens, civil society, and the media played a significant role in compelling the Supreme Court justices to overturn the attempts of desperate and unscrupulous politicians who tried to steal electoral mandates through the lower courts. These mandates were given by the voters through the ballot.

In the governorship tussles in Kano, Plateau, and Zamfara States, the Supreme Court delivered a severe blow to the sinister schemes of the political losers who sought to forcefully acquire what they couldn’t obtain through legitimate means. Their outlandish and illogical positions presented in the courts were rightfully dismissed by the well-reasoned conclusions of the apex court. This has effectively prevented Nigeria from being pushed towards an undemocratic one-party state. While Nigerians are relieved that the Supreme Court refused to be part of the anti-democratic and malicious plots to undermine Nigeria’s democracy, it is crucial to investigate what transpired in the Tribunals and the appellate court. The Appeal Court justices who made strange decisions on electoral matters that were overturned by the Supreme Court, have become liabilities to the judicial system and should be removed from their positions.

The burning question that troubles the minds of astute observers of the judicial process is: where did the Election Petition Tribunals and the Court of Appeal derive their legal reasoning and positions from? It is perplexing to witness the emergence of illogical and utterly convoluted judgments from these courts. Why did it seem as though some of the courts presiding over election cases were determined to arrive at specific conclusions, even if those conclusions contradicted logic, the Nigerian Constitution, and the Electoral Act 2022? In essence, Nigerians deserve to understand the motivations behind these incredulous judgments that defied established judicial precedents and turned the law on its head.

CHRICED firmly believes that urgent action must be taken by the judiciary to address the alarming level of misconduct witnessed during the election cases. Failing to take action will only pave the way for more instances of such misconduct in future election disputes. When judges sitting in tribunals and justices of the Appeal Court disregard the established judicial precedents set by the highest court in the country, it becomes evident that their motivations go beyond upholding the law and ensuring justice. Let’s consider the Election Petition Tribunal in Kano State as an example. Where did the judges find the legal reasoning in the law books to justify deducting 165,663 votes from the 1,019,602 votes belonging to the NNPP? It is evident that their decision lacked a solid legal foundation and cannot be justified.

Therefore, it was appropriate that the Supreme Court reprimanded both the Tribunal and the Appeal Court, emphasizing that the absence of ballot paper stamping does not invalidate lawful votes. We strongly urge the National Judicial Council (NJC) to call for a thorough review of all decisions made by the Court of Appeal in the cases of House of Assembly, House of Representatives, and Senate, with particular focus on the case of Plateau State. It is important to highlight that the highest court of the land, in its wisdom, correctly applied the established legal principles when dismissing the petition filed by Nasiru Gawuna of the APC against Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State. The APC candidate, not being a member of the NNPP, and going to court to fault his opponent’s membership of his political party, clearly does not hold water. The law and previous rulings are crystal clear that once you are not a member of a political party, you do not have the legal basis to question the membership or nomination of another party’s candidate. It is truly astonishing how the lower courts conveniently overlooked this well-known precedent, which even the common man on the street is well aware of.

Similarly, the Appeal Court’s ruling against the PDP in Plateau State has caused great embarrassment. The court decided that the party breached a High Court ruling which directed them to conduct congresses at various levels. However, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the issue of the primary election that produced Caleb Mutfwang as the PDP candidate falls outside the jurisdiction of the lower court. Furthermore, the Supreme Court emphasized that the validity of nomination and sponsorship by a political party cannot be used as grounds to void an election. The lower court’s judgment was deemed erroneous by the Supreme Court, as the petitioners, who were not members of the PDP, had no right to challenge the party’s primary election. Additionally, the Court highlighted that the PDP did not disobey the order of the Plateau High Court, as evidence showed that a fresh primary was indeed conducted.

All these instances in which the apex court berated the verdicts of the Appeal Court point to the fact that with respect to the election disputes, the appellate court has become a judicial liability. While it is true that the Supreme Court itself has also displayed questionable behavior in the past, particularly in the pre-election cases involving former Senate President Ahmad Lawan, the fact that it is now emphasizing the importance of upholding the rule of law gives us a glimmer of hope. It is evident that the judiciary itself is in need of a thorough cleansing, and the National Judicial Council (NJC) is the institution responsible for addressing this issue. Therefore, CHRICED urges the NJC to promptly reassess the rulings of the Election Petition Tribunals and the Appeal Court, particularly in cases where illogical and perplexing outcomes were reached. Nigerians deserve to understand the motives behind such troubling judgments. In cases of clear misconduct, the judges who abused their positions by giving such embarrassing judgements must be held accountable. This is the only way to purify the justice system and ensure that it effectively fulfills its role as a fundamental pillar of the democratic process.


Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi
Executive Director

Leave a comment