In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court has unanimously restored Governor Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) as the valid winner of the governorship election held in Kano State on March 18.
The decision overturned the earlier judgments of both the Kano State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which had nullified Yusuf’s victory and declared Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the winner.
Justice Inyang Okoro, delivering the lead judgment, emphasized that the two lower courts had erroneously deducted valid votes credited to Governor Yusuf by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Supreme Court held that the 165,663 votes deducted from Yusuf and the NNPP, purportedly due to unsigned, unstamped, or undated ballot papers, were indeed valid.
Contrary to the lower courts’ stance, the Supreme Court noted that 146,292 of the ballot papers were confirmed to have been signed and stamped, even though they lacked a date.
The court pointed out that, according to section 63(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, ballot papers with the official mark issued by INEC were not entirely invalid.
Additionally, the court rejected claims that Governor Yusuf’s non-membership in the NNPP was grounds for nullifying his election, asserting that the issue of a candidate’s sponsorship by a political party was within the domestic affairs of that party.
The Supreme Court concluded that Yusuf won the governorship election with the majority of lawful votes and was duly nominated by his political party.