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Appeal Court upholds Shekarau, Shema’s elections

Posted by By ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna on 2009/01/08 | Views: 277 |

Appeal Court upholds Shekarau, Shema’s elections


The Appeal Court on Wednesday strengthened the hands of Kano State Governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and his Kaduna State counterpart, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema on governance by dismissing the appeals opponents filed against their victories at the polls.

The Appeal Court on Wednesday strengthened the hands of Kano State Governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and his Kaduna State counterpart, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema on governance by dismissing the appeals opponents filed against their victories at the polls.

A spontaneous chant of Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar (Allah is great, Allah is great),” from supporters of Governor Shekarau filled the courtroom when Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa pronounced the him as “duly and validly” elected, thus dismissing the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Kano State, Alhaji Garba Bichi.
Bulkachuwa read the lead judgment and the decision was unanimous, as all the five Justices one after the other concurred.

The appellants, Bichi and his running mate and the respondents, Shekarau and his deputy, were not in court. But while Bichi’s supporters were hardly noticeable, those of Shekarau were everywhere. They started trooping into the court premises as early 8.a.m. with majority of them unable to gain access into the premises. They waited for about three and a half hours before the five panel Justices, led by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa entered the court room at exactly 11.20 a.m.

She began reading the judgment at exactly 11.27 a.m. by first reviewing the whole proceeding, beginning with the issues that were raised and determined at the lower tribunal, judgment of which was delivered March 11, 2008 and by 12.10 p.m, she had pronounced Shekarau as duly elected.
Bichi had, following the declaration of Shekarau as governor-elect after the April 14, 2007 governorship elections, approached the court, praying it to annul the elections on the grounds that Shekarau, having been disqualified by the administrative panel that indicted certain public officers, ought not to have been eligible to stand for the election.

Besides, Bichi further argued that Shekarau did not score _ of the votes in the 2/3 of the councils in the state, and that because it was characterized by fraud, the election should be declared null and void.
But the lower tribunal upheld the election of Shekarau and dismissed Bichi’s petition.
Unsatisfied with the verdict of the lower court, Bichi again approached the Appeal Court on March 31, 2008, seeking to set aside the decision of the lower court. But the Appeal court in a unanimous decision on Wednesday held that Shekarau was duly elected as Kano State governor.

In arriving at the decision, the court held that since a competent court had earlier set aside the purported administrative panel report and government’s white paper on indicted public officials, Shekarau was eligible to have contested the election. It further held that the appointment of the former chairman of the lower tribunal, Justice Adamu Jauru, who was appointed Justice of the court of Appeal shortly before the judgment was delivered, did not in any way vitiate the conclusion of the court.

The decision flowed from the contention of the appellants that following the appointment of a new chairman for the tribunal, the matter should have started afresh, but the court opined that since the new chairman had been part of the proceedings right from the beginning till the time the addresses were adopted, it would be out of place to say he was entirely new to the proceedings.
Since the Electoral Act provides that three of the members, including the chairman could form a quorum at any giving sitting, the court held that the tribunal was duly constituted.

In the Katsina State case, the court also upheld the election of Governor, Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Shema, thus dismissing the petition filed by Senator Abu Ibrahim of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP) on the grounds that the petition was filed outside the stipulated 30 days.
Like that of Kano, the decision too was unanimous. But it was read by Justice Uzo Anyanwu. She began reading the judgment at 12.40p.m, and by 12.57p.m, she dismissed the petition and held that the lower Tribunal ought not to have looked into the matter in the first instance, since the issue of jurisdiction was a “peripheral” issue once it was raised, adding that “jurisdiction is conferred only when the petition is presented within the stipulated 30 days.

Time begins to run when there is existence of issues. And in this case time begins to run April 15, 2007, when all materials required by the petitioners to prepare their case had happened. But the petition was filed one day after the mandatory provision. It is therefore statue barred, and this court upholds the preliminary objection filed by the respondents. The trial by the lower tribunal is voidable and an exercise in futility.”

Meanwhile, the court has adjourned till February 2, continuation in the hearing of the appeal filed by the ANPP’s gubernatorial candidate for Kaduna State in the last governorship election against the election of Governor Namadi Sambo of Kaduna State.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.