JUST-IN: What INEC told Supreme Court about Gov. Yusuf’s 165,000 votes, party membership

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) told the Supreme Court that the 165,616 votes deducted from Kano state governor Abba Kabir Yusuf 1,019,602 votes by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal are authentic even if not signed. CONTINUE FULL READING>>>>>

Daily News 24 reports that INEC has joined Governor Yusuf’s party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) to request the Supreme Court to set aside the judgements of both the tribunal and the Appeal Court, which removed the governor from office.

The INEC maintained that the election it conducted, which Mr Abba secured 1,019,602 votes against his opponent Nasiru Gawuna, who polled 890,705 votes, was free, fair and credible.

The electoral body told the five-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Inyang Okoro, that the two lower courts erred in law in voiding results from over 165,000 ballot papers used for the March 18 governorship election in Kano State.

INEC lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, argued that the key witness whose testimony was used in deducting the 165,616 votes of Yusuf was incompetent, on the grounds that being a subpoenaed witness his testimony ought to have been frontloaded and filed alongside the petition, adding that failure to do so rendered his evidence inadmissible.

Besides, he submitted that the said contested 165,616 ballot papers were authentic and originated from INEC and not elsewhere, stressing that it was not the duty of a voter, on the day of election, to check if a ballot paper was signed or stamped and without date of election, adding that such was the task of a party agent.

Mahmoud further informed the apex court that the recounting of votes was done privately at the tribunal’s chambers after the deduction of the contested 165,616 votes.

In addition, the senior lawyer stated that even when they were brought to the Court of Appeal they weren’t demonstrated, pointing out that only a portion of the said unlawful ballots were examined at the tribunal.

He however, clarified that INEC was not taking sides except with respect to the correct interpretation of the law.

On Yusuf’s membership of the NNPP, Mahmoud noted that the issue was an internal affair of political parties and could not be determined by the court.

In his submission, Counsel to Yusuf, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, submitted that the judgment of the two lower courts was outside the provisions of the electoral laws, adding that this was the first time in the annals of electoral jurisprudence, where an election was nullified on the grounds that ballot papers were not signed or stamped at the back.

He said INEC guidelines did not envisage that the courts would nullify an election on the basis of INEC purportedly failing to stamp ballot papers on the back.
“The judgment of the lower courts is very unfair to the appellant and we urge your lordships to upturn it,” Olanipekun said.

On its part, the NNPP, through its counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, argued that the said ballot papers were actually cast at the polling units but the APC legal team did not specify the polling units affected at the Tribunal in line with rules of court.

While responding to questions from the panel, Awomolo said ballot papers not signed ought not to affect the validity of an election.

INEC had announced NNPP’s Yusuf as winner of the March 18, 2023 election, haven scored 1,019,602 votes to defeat Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC),who got 890,705 of the votes cast.

But following APC and Gawuna’s petition, the tribunal held that there was evidence of irregularities and corrupt practices resulting in the cancellation of over 165,000 ballot papers on grounds that the ballot papers “were not signed or stamped by INEC.” CONTINUE FULL READING>>>>>

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