Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, says the judgements of the appellate court sacking Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State and Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State should be reviewed because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed in its duty to conduct proper elections in the country.
Falana, who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme, 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.
According to the senior lawyer, election matters should be concluded before the inauguration of any administrations.
In the last one week, the appellate court sacked three governors that INEC declared as 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 after. 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.
Speaking on the judgements of the appellate court, Falana said INEC failed to perform due diligence before and during the elections.
He said all those dissatisfied with the appeal court verdicts can go to the Supreme Court.
“If you look at what happened in Lagos is different from what happened in Plateau. You are being told in Plateau that there was a judgement of the high court to the effect that primaries have to be conducted. The judgement, as usual, was dishonoured and disobeyed and the election went on,” the senior lawyer said.
He said the political class must learn to comply with the decision of the court.
“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. How does that affect the validity of 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 judgements will have to be reviewed