The Supreme Court on Monday in Abuja reserved judgment in a fresh legal battle by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani seeking to unseat Umar Ahmadu Fintiri as the duly elected governor of Adamawa State.
The apex court deferred final judgment after fierce legal fireworks by the legal team of the Governorship candidate, led by Chief Akin Olujinmi SAN and that of governor Fintiri headed by Damian Dodo SAN.
During the fierce arguments, Olujinmi, a former Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice asked the 5-member panel of Justices to invoke section 152 of the Electoral Act 2022 to declare Binani as the lawfully elected governor of Adamawa State.
The senior lawyer said that the Resident Electoral Commissioner REC who pronounced Binani as winner of the March 18 last year Governorship election had powers under the Electoral Act to do what he did.
Specifically, Olujinmi insisted that as a Staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, the REC cannot be faulted for making declaration in the election he superintended over.
However, counsel to governor Fintiri, Damian Dodo SAN pleaded with the court to reject the arguments of Binani in its entirety for being baseless and against the clear provisions of the law.
Among others, Dodo submitted that the Resident Electoral Commissioner lacked power to make declaration on election adding that the only person vested with power to do so is the Returning Officer.
He explained that the Resident Electoral Commissioner who made the unlawful declaration refused bluntly to show up at the Adamawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to give evidence and justify his actions.
Rather, the senior lawyer said that the REC fled the country and ran away to Niger Republic to take refuge when declared wanted by security operatives for trial in the unlawful and unconstitutional acts.
Besides, Dodo submitted that until now, Binani and APC have not produced or tendered the results used by the fleeing Resident Electoral Commissioner to back up their claims to Governorship victory.
After taking arguments from lawyers, Justice John Inyang Okoro announced that judgment has been reserved and that parties involved would be communicated when the verdict is ready for delivery.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja had on Monday December 18, 2023 dismissed the petition by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani seeking to invalidate the election of Umar Ahmadu Fintiri as the duly elected governor of Adamawa State.
The Appellate Court held that Governor Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was lawfully declared the winner of the poll by the Adamawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
A judgment written by Justice Tunde Oyebanji Awotoye threw out the case of Binani and APC on various grounds of abnormalities.
Among the grounds, the Appeal Court held that Binani and APC failed to call polling agents who participated in the conduct of the election as witnesses but unfortunately called Campaign Coordinators who were not at the election venue.
Justice Awotoye said the three witnesses called to establish malpractices in 27 Local Government Areas who were Campaign Coordinators are mere hearsay witnesses having not been party agents.
The Court held that it is against the law to attach probate values to the testimony of the Campaign Coordinators since such is worthless in the face of the law.
Besides, Justice Awotoye said that the brief of argument filed by Binani and APC was in contravention of the law, hence, incompetent and deserved to be ignored.
Also, Justice Awotoye held that the records of appeal transmitted to the Court of Appeal by Binani and APC were not complete and insufficient for the Court to make any finding.
The Court declared as an illegal act the declaration of Binani and APC as winners of the election adding that the only authority to make a declaration is the Returning Officer.
The Court also said it was wrong for Binani to be taking Panadol for the headache of the Resident Electoral Commissioner REC who opted to take laws into his hand.
“In the eyes of the law, the Resident Electoral Commissioner is on his own. He should be allowed to take responsibility for his illegal and unlawful act”
The unanimous judgment had dismissed the appeal in its entirety and awarded a cost of N1m to be paid to Fintiri and PDP by Binani and APC.
The Adamawa State Governorship Electoral Petitions Tribunal had, in October, dismissed the petition filed by Binani seeking Fintiri’s sack from office.