Appeal Court Halts Elections In Bayelsa, Adamawa, Cross River, Kogi, Sokoto
SAN FRANCISCO, April 15, (THEWILL) – The Court of Appeal has stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting Governorship elections in five states after it upheld an earlier ruling of a Federal High Court which ruled in favour of the governors that their four-year tenures would expire at different dates in 2012 and not on May 29, 2011, as held by INEC.
The beneficiaries of the judgement are Liyel Imoke of Cross River; Aliyu Wammako of Sokoto; Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa; Murtala Nyarko of Adamawa and Ibrahim Idris of Kogi state.
The five justices of the Court of Appeal agreed unanimously with the ruling of Justice Adamu Bello of the lower court that the first oath sworn to by the governors were nullified when their elections were declared null and void by the various courts in 2007 and consolidated when the governors stood for reelection.
Delivering the judgement of the court, Justice Paul Galinje commended Justice Adamu Bello for his courageous ruling and interpretation of Section 180 (2) (a) of the constitution, which he said was devoid of sentiments but in line with an earlier interpretation given by the Supreme Court in a Peter Obi V INEC matter. He also said the Appeal Court justices based its entire decision on facts of the law and not sentiments.
In the about one hour 45 minutes judgement which was centered on the definition of nullification, Justice Galinje said the cancellation of the 2007 elections in the affected states meant the initial elections never took place in the eyes of the law.
“The earlier oath taken by the governors cannot be used as a reference point when determining when the tenure of the governors will end. This is because the election upon which they took the oath was not held in accordance with law,” Justice Galinje stated.
He rejected the submission of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which computed the time spent in office before the nullification of their elections.
“In law, there were no elections in the five states in April 2007. In the eyes of the law, the governors were not elected governors in April 2007,” he added.
With the court’s judgement, Kogi State Governor Abubabar Idris would vacate office on April 5th, 2012; Wammako on May 28, 2012; Admiral Nyarko on April 30th; Timipre Sylva on May 29, 2011 and Liyel Imoke on August 28, 2012.
It is however unclear whether INEC would proceed to the Supreme Court over the matter.