Photo: Femi Falana (SAN).
Falana urges Supreme Court to review Appeal Court’s sacking of 3 opposition governors
Renowned constitution lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has called on the Supreme Court to review the judgments delivered by the Court of Appeal, which recently sacked three opposition parties’ governors in Nigeria.
Falana made the call on Sunday, during an interview on Channels TV.
He said that the votes of Nigerians should not be nullified by the courts because of the supposed negligence of INEC that ought to have cleared candidates put forward by parties that do not conduct proper primaries, which are pre-election matters.
Falana stressed that the electorate can not be punished for INEC’s institutional negligence and thousands of votes should not be invalidated by the court because its officials failed to stamp ballot sheets.
It would be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Abba Yusuf (Kano), Dauda Lawal (Zamfara) and Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau) as duly elected governors of their respective states in the March 2023 governorship elections.
In the case of Plateau, Gov Mutfwang was declared duly elected by the election tribunal on the ground that the issue of his nomination brought by the APC was a pre-election matter, which it had no jurisdiction to entertain, calling the PDP and its candidate meddlesome interlopers in the affairs of another party.
The Court of Appeal, in separate judgments, sacked the governors who are members of the opposition New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Court declared the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Nasir Gawuna, the winner of the poll for Kano State.
It also ruled that the poll in Zamfara State was inconclusive and ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas of the state.
The court also ordered INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to APC’s Nentawe Goshwe in Plateau State.
Speaking during the interview, Falana said, “If you look at the judgments, what happened in Lagos is different from what happened in Plateau. You are being told in Plateau that there was a judgment of the High Court to the effect that party congresses should be conducted but that it was dishonoured and disobeyed and the election went on.
“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 the governor was not properly nominated by his party, which is a pre-election matter and that 165,000 votes were wasted, and are invalid because some electoral officers committed an error by not stamping them. How does that affect the validity of the election?
“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 by the Supreme Court.”