Governors Booted by Courts And Why They Got the Axe – The Full Breakdown
In the aftermath of the 2023 general elections, the spotlight has shifted to the legal arena, where various courts are adjudicating petitions stemming from the contested electoral outcomes. This analysis by Okiki Adeduyite delves into the state governors who have been ousted by court decisions and the reasons behind their removal.
In a recent verdict on Sunday, the Court of Appeal, under the leadership of Justice Elphreda Williams-Dawodu, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to retract the Certificate of Return awarded to Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State. The court proclaimed Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress as the rightful winner of the March 18 governorship election, mandating INEC to issue a new Certificate of Return.
The judiciary has nullified the elections of at least three governors, contested by opposing parties or marred by inconclusiveness, within a span of nine months post the elections.
The following outlines the dismissed state governors and the grounds cited by the courts:
- Abba Kabir Yusuf (NNPP):
- The Election Petitions Tribunal, led by Justice Oluyemi Osadebay, invalidated the election of Governor Yusuf, citing the invalidity of 165,663 votes garnered by him due to unsigned and unstamped ballot papers.
- The tribunal ordered the revocation of Yusuf’s certificate of return, with a new one issued to Nasir Gawuna of the APC.
- The Court of Appeal in Abuja upheld the tribunal’s decision, emphasizing Yusuf’s absence from his party’s membership list.
- Abdullahi Sule (APC):
- The Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal ruled in October to revoke Governor Abdullahi Sule’s Certificate of Return, instructing INEC to award it to David Ombugadu of the PDP.
- The tribunal based its decision on discrepancies in votes, notably in specific wards, and relied on certified polling units results.
- The Court of Appeal in Abuja is yet to deliver its judgment, having reserved it on Wednesday, November 15.
- Dauda Lawal (PDP):
- The Court of Appeal, on Thursday, November 16, declared the Zamfara State governorship election inconclusive, ordering INEC to conduct new elections in two local governments.
- The appellate court held that the incumbent governor, Bello Matawalle, successfully demonstrated the invalidity of Dauda Lawal’s election.
- Governor Matawalle is currently reviewing the judgment before deciding on the next course of action.
- Caleb Mutfwang (PDP):
- Nentawe Goshwe of the APC challenged Governor Caleb Mutfwang’s victory, alleging improper nomination and sponsorship by his party.
- A unanimous decision by the Court of Appeal on Sunday, November 19, affirmed that the governor was not validly sponsored by the PDP, referencing Section 177 of the Constitution.
Despite these legal setbacks, Abba Kabir Yusuf, Abdullahi Sule, and Caleb Mutfwang, the ousted governors, remain resolute in their pursuit of justice, with Yusuf expressing determination to reclaim his mandate at the Supreme Court.