“Judgments sacking Kano, Plateau Govs. should be reviewed” – Falana

Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has said the judgments of the appellate court sacking Governor Abba Yusuf, of Kano State, and Governor Caleb Mutfwang, of Plateau State, should be reviewed.

Falana made this call in an interview on a television programme yesterday.

According to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), failed in its duty to conduct proper elections in the country.

He said the votes of Nigerians should not be nullified by the courts because of the supposed negligence of the electoral umpire that shouldn’t have cleared candidates put forward by parties without primaries conducted.

He also said thousands of votes should not be invalidated by the court because INEC officials failed to stamp ballot sheets. Falana noted that election matters should be concluded before the inauguration of any administration.

Recall that the appellate court sacked three governors that INEC declared winners in the March 2023 poll. All the three governors sacked by the appellate court are in opposition parties.

The court sacked Yusuf, of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, (NNPP), and declared his All-Progressives Congress, (APC), counterpart, Nasir Gawuna, as the winner of the poll.

In Zamfara, the appellate court sacked Governor Dauda Lawal, of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), when it declared the poll inconclusive about eight months afterward. The court ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas of the State. PDP’s Lawal and APC’s Bello Matawalle are the major contenders in the race.

On Sunday, the appellate court sacked PDP’s Mutfwang and ordered INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to APC’s Nentawe Goshwe. The court held that the party violated the court order that a valid congress be conducted in the 17 local government areas of that State. However, the appellate court affirmed the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC in Lagos State.

But, speaking on the judgments of the appellate court, Falana said INEC failed to perform due diligence before and during the elections. According to him, all those dissatisfied with the appeal court verdicts can go to the Supreme Court. He said the political class must learn to comply with the decisions of the court.

He said, “It is different from Kano, where you are being told that voters can be punished. It is a very dangerous judicial policy to sanction voters for the mistake of electoral officers.

“We are being told that 165,000 votes are wasted; they are invalid because some electoral officers committed an error by not stamping them”.

On how that affects the validity of the election, Falana said: “I do hope that this time around the Supreme Court will resolve these needless controversies surrounding the non-stamping of ballot papers by INEC officials, who have not been recommended for any sanction.

“This is why these judgments will have to be reviewed”.

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