The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal entered by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani, against the re-election of Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State.
The five-man panel of the apex court chaired by Justice John Okoro held that the embattled Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Yunusa Hudu, almost caused “anarchy and chaos” in the state by illegally declaring Binani winner of the polls.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) counsel,
Abubakar Ahmad, had urged the apex court to uphold Fintiri’s Re-election after the Court of Appeal Abuja affirmed Fintiri’s re-election and dismissed Binani’s appeal.
The appeal court had also ordered Binani and APC to pay N1 million to the governor and his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), for filing a “vague” application.
Binani’s appeal was against the judgment of the Adamawa State governorship election petition tribunal which affirmed Fintiri’s re-election.
THE WHISTLER reported that Binani on April 16 accepted the result wrongly declared in her favour by Yunusa Hudu, the former Adamawa Resident Electoral Commission (REC), who made the announcement without reading out the scores for each candidate as enshrined in the Electoral Act 2022.
Yunusa had walked into the collation center after the supplementary election was suspended and announced Binani as winner, drawing widespread criticism.
But INEC’s leadership declared the announcement a nullity.
After a supplementary election, INEC announced Fintiri as the winner of the polls with 430,861 votes while Binani of the APC polled 398,788 votes.
Binani then approached the tribunal citing allegations of corrupt practices and non-compliance to the Electoral Act.
But the Tribunal dismissed Binani’s petition, saying “the petitioners woefully failed to establish their allegations of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and prove their case with cogent, credible and satisfactory evidence.”
Binani’s counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, in 27 grounds of appeal, asked the appeal court to declare that the lower court erred.
A three-man panel of the court led by Justice Tunde Awotoye held that the appellant’s brief was invalid and is likely to be struck out for being incompetent.
Awotoye further held that the appellants filed an incompetent record of appeal contrary to the practice directions of the court and tried to make the appeal court speculate.
The appeal court also held that the appellant’s allegations of corrupt practices were not backed by sufficient evidence and were rightly struck out by the Tribunal.
“The evidence of the appellants at the Tribunal was hearsay evidence which deserves to be ignored,”
“I hold that this appeal lacks merit and is dismissed,” the court held while approving the cost of N500,000 in favour of each of the second and third respondents (Fintiri and PDP).
At the hearing on Monday, counsel for Binani, Olujimi urged the apex court to declare that the announcement made by the INEC REC was valid because he was an official of INEC.
He argued that based on Section 149 of the Electoral Act, any official of INEC can announce the winner of an election.
But INEC’s lawyer, Ahmad, asked the apex court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the submissions of the governor’s legal team.
Dodo, the governor’s lawyer, asked the apex court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
He said REC had no business with declaration of results as held by the lower courts, adding it is a returning officer that declares winner of an election.
Reading his judgment on Wednesday, Justice Okoro agreed with Ahmad that the returning officer, not the REC, has the constitutional duty to announce results.
Okoro subsequently dismissed Binani’s appeal, adding that Hudu engaged in “criminality” by his actions