By Adedayo Akinwale, Alex Enumah in Abuja, Igbawase Ukumba in Lafia, and Ahmad Sorondinki in Kano
The controversy surrounding the discrepancies found in the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Court of Appeal judgment in the Kano State governorship election persists. Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the legal counsel for Kano State Governor Kabir Yusuf, asserts that the appellate court cannot correct what it deems mere clerical errors, contradicting the court’s stance.
Olanipekun argued that the Court of Appeal, having become functus officio in the case, lacks the authority to make corrections to the judgment. Concerns are growing that the political crisis in Kano may escalate, with both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) planning separate rallies to defend their positions.
In a related development, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal reversed the dismissal of Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State. The initial unanimous judgment delivered on November 17 had upheld the removal of Yusuf from office, but discrepancies in the CTC led to conflicting interpretations. Olanipekun contends that the Court of Appeal no longer has the jurisdiction to make corrections after the expiration of the 60-day period mandated by law.
In a letter dated November 23, Olanipekun emphasized the constitutional mandate and functional limitations of the Court of Appeal, asserting that any application for correction of errors should be directed to the Supreme Court. He expressed concern over the tight timeline for filing an appeal to the Supreme Court and urged fair consideration of their constitutional right.
Olanipekun also questioned the assertion by the Chief Registrar, Mohammed Bangari, that the errors do not invalidate the judgment, emphasizing the need for clarity on the procedure and jurisdiction for correcting errors after the expiration of the mandated timeframe.
The letter copies were sent to the First Respondent (APC), Second Respondent (Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC), and Third Respondent (NNPP).
The conflicting CTC has led to protests in Kano by NNPP supporters, and both APC and NNPP have announced plans for separate rallies, raising concerns about potential clashes. The political situation in Kano is attracting attention from various quarters, with calls for intervention from prominent figures, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi. The Concerned Yoruba Community has urged President Bola Tinubu to refrain from interfering in the court case, expressing concerns for the safety of Yoruba residents in Kano.
In a separate development, the Court of Appeal overturned the removal of Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State. The panel held that the Election Petition Tribunal erred in concluding that Sule did not secure the majority of votes. The appellate court set aside the tribunal’s judgment and affirmed Sule’s re-election as Governor, citing breaches in fair-hearing principles and insufficient evidence of over-voting. Speaker of Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Abdullahi, hailed the judgment, calling it a victory for peace and development in the state.