Twenty-four hours to the maximum time allowed for all governorship election petitions to be determined, the Supreme Court, on Thursday, declared Siminalayi Fubara as the validly elected Governor of Rivers State, dismissing the appeal of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the March 18, 2023 gubernatorial election, Patrick Tonye Cole. Governor Fubara of
Twenty-four hours to the maximum time allowed for all governorship election petitions to be determined, the Supreme Court, on Thursday, declared Siminalayi Fubara as the validly elected Governor of Rivers State, dismissing the appeal of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the March 18, 2023 gubernatorial election, Patrick Tonye Cole.
In the unanimous judgement read by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa on behalf of the five-member panel of the apex court, the court ruled against the appeal of the APC candidate on the ground that he was not able to provide evidence to support his claims that the poll was marred by irregularities and noncompliance with the Electoral Act 2022 in the state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Siminalayi Fubara of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the state elections having polled a total of 302,614 votes ahead of his closest river, Tonye Cole of the APC who polled a total of 95,274.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, Tonye Cole and his party, APC approached the electoral tribunal to seek an upturn of the result of the poll and for the court to declare him as the legitimate winner of the poll.
But in an ironic turn of events, APC pulled out of the matter while it was still being heard by the state governorship election tribunal, indicating its decision not to further challenge the victory of the state governor.
Despite the decision of his party not to further probe the outcome of the the state election, Mr Cole insisted on claiming his mandate on his own whether or not his part joined him in the legal battle.
However, the state electoral tribunal ruled against Mr Cole’s petition on the ground that he failed to prove his allegation. The tribunal also alluded to the fact the party that sponsored him has already withdrawn its suit.
Not satisfied with the tribunal’s ruling, Tonye Cole approached the court of appeal to seek redress and for the appellate court to declare him the winner of the poll; however, the court upheld the decision of the tribunal but ruled against the position of the tribunal that the governorship candidate cannot seek redress because his party has pulled out of the case.
Not satisfied with the judgement, Mr Tonye Cole took his matter to the supreme court, but the apex court also agreed with lower courts, insisting that the electoral umpire was right to uphold Siminalayi of the Peoples Democratic Party as the validly elected governor of the state.
Agbu Kefas Wins in Taraba
The apex court, in a unanimous decision, also affirmed Agbu Kefas as Governor of Taraba State, dismissing the appeal of Yahaya Sani of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) for grossly lacking in merit.
Kefas had been declared by INEC as the winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election with 257,926 votes to defeat Sani who got 202,277 votes. However, Sani claimed that the election was marred by noncompliance with the Electoral Act, irregularities, and other malpractices.
To claim his mandate, the NNPP candidate petitioned the tribunal to overturn the election results, but the tribunal ruled against him because he failed to prove his allegation in court.
Similarly, the appeal court also dismissed Sani’s appeal and affirmed the tribunal’s judgement upholding Kefas’ election for lacking in merit.
Displeased with the positions of the lower courts, Yahaya Sani approached the apex court to declare him the rightful winner of the election, but the supreme court judgement did not swing in his favour.
Ahmed Aliyu Stays as Sokoto Governor
The Supreme Court also affirmed the victory of Ahmed Aliyu as the Governor of Sokoto State, dismissing the appeal of Saidu Umar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP candidate had approached the Supreme Court to challenge the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, who was declared the winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election, on the grounds of electoral malpractice and noncompliance with the Electoral Act.
In a judgement read by Justice Tijani Abubakar on behalf of the five-member t panel led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the appellant did not prove his case before the court, hence the reason for the dismissal.
The PDP candidate had earlier approached the electoral tribunal and the court of appeals to upturn the victory of his APC rival, but the lower courts ruled in the Governor’s favour, on the ground that there was no reason to upturn the outcome of the election.