The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, held back its judgment in the ongoing intense legal dispute over the governorship election in Nasarawa State. The legal showdown involves the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) along with its governorship candidate, Hon Emmanuel David Ombugadu.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, Kanu Agabi SAN, the lead counsel representing the PDP and its governorship candidate, appealed to the apex court to set aside the November 23 judgment of the Court of Appeal, which affirmed Sule as the duly elected governor. Agabi, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, argued for the restoration of the October 2, 2023, judgment of the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which favored the PDP and Ombugadu.
Agabi contended that the Court of Appeal unjustly invalidated the Tribunal’s judgment, declaring Sule as the winner of the March 18 gubernatorial election. He specifically urged the Supreme Court to acknowledge the votes of Nasarawa people by declaring PDP and Ombugadu as winners, in line with the Tribunal’s decision.
In response, the Governor, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and APC urged the court to dismiss the appeal, citing a lack of merit. APC lawyers, led by Akin Olujinmi SAN, presented their arguments, requesting a thorough examination of legal authorities supporting their call for dismissal.
After considering arguments from both sides, Justice Kekere-Ekun announced the reservation of judgment, with the date for its delivery to be communicated to the concerned parties.
The Court of Appeal had, on November 23 of the previous year, overturned the removal of Sule by the State Election Petitions Tribunal in its October 2 judgment. The appellate court criticized the Tribunal for its erroneous use of witness statements on oath, which were not front-loaded as required by law, leading to the annulment of the governor’s election.
Justice Uchechukwu Onyemenam, delivering the judgment at the Court of Appeal, emphasized that the Tribunal had acted in grave error by not adhering to the stipulated 21-day period for front-loaded witness statements. The Court dismissed over-voting allegations, stating they were not legally established, and ruled that the PDP’s petition was null and invalid due to the Tribunal’s failure to address jurisdictional issues raised by the governor.
In conclusion, the Court of Appeal reversed all orders against the governor, affirming Abdullahi Sule as the duly elected governor of Nasarawa State.