The Court of Appeal has insisted that its judgment on the dispute over the last Governorship election in Kano State is as pronounced in the open court.
The appellate court insisted that the judgment dismissed the appeal by the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and candidate Kabir Yusuf, adding that it upheld the judgment of the trial tribunal.
The Chief Registrar, Court of Appeal, Umar Mohammed Bangari, said there is nothing to the controversies generated by the typographical errors notices on the certified true copies (CTCs) of the judgment obtained by parties.
Bangari explained that what discrepancies notice in the body of the judgment were as a result clerical error that did not, in anyway invalidate or change the findings and conclusion of the court.
He said the errors would be rectified once parties in the case file a formal application to that effect.
Bangari said the court is empowered under Order 23 Rule 4 of the Court of Appeal Handbook to correct any clerical error once detected by the court or any of the parties in a case.
The Chief Registrar stated that contrary to insinuations being peddled, the judgment of the court, as pronounced in the open court, remains valid.
He said: “What happened in the part of the judgment being complained about is just a mere clerical error that ought not to draw any issue. The court is empowered to correct such clerical error and would be done as appropriate.”
The discrepancies noticed in the concluding part of the CTC of judgment released to parties have continued to generate reactions, with the NNPP claiming, among others, that the judgement was in its favour.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal had, in a unanimous judgment on November 17 dismissed the appeal filed by Yusuf and the NNPP.
In the lead judgment by Justice Moore Adumein the court further held that evidence supplied by the parties before the tribunal, established that Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP at the time the election was held.
He noted that under Section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, Yusuf was not qualified to contest the governorship election since he was not validly sponsored by the NNPP.
Justice Adumein said: “A person must be a member of a political party before he can be sponsored for an election. Sponsorship without membership is like putting something on nothing.”
He noted that it was the position of the law that every political party shall maintain the register of its voters, adding that Yusuf, to his own detriment did not submit his NNPP membership register or even tendered his statement on oath regarding his membership of the party during hearing at the trial.
Justice Adumein said the Constitution made it mandatory for a political party to have a membership register, which should submit to INEC and the election tribunal when required.
He added: “As rightfully found, Yusuf Abba was not a member of the NNPP at the time he was purportedly sponsored by his party and he was not qualified to contest the March 18 Governorship Election.
“If you claim to be a member of a political party, is it not logical for you to say so by yourself and not by proxy?
“Even though membership of a political party is an internal affair, a political party cannot be permitted to circumvent or breach the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“The tribunal was wrong not to have disqualified the appellant. Therefore, the failure of the appellant and the NNPP to comply with the 1999 Constitution is fatal to their election.”
Justice Adumein further held that the trial tribunal acted in the overall interest of justice when it allowed the APC to tender documents during trial, because INEC released documents to the party in piecemeal in order to defeat the petition of the petitioner.
He also held that the insistence of the respondents (at the tribunal) that APC ought to have joined its candidate (Gawuna) as a party in the proceedings, was not backed supported by the Constitution.
The judge said a candidate is entitled to be represented by his political party during litigation.
He upheld the findings of the tribunal in relation to faulting result sheets which were not duly stamped by INEC.
Justice Adumein, while affirming the judgment of the tribunal, said: “All issues in this appeal are dismissed and the judgment of the tribunal is affirmed.”
Dissatisfied with INEC’s return of Yusuf as winner of the election, the APC had lodged a petition before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, seeking to void the outcome of the election.
The petitioner argued that the election was conducted in gross violation of the constitution and the electoral law and malpractices in the conduct of the March 18 governorship election in Kano State.
In its judgment on September 20 the tribunal agreed with the petitioners that over 160,000 ballot papers “were not signed or stamped by INEC.”
The tribunal led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay proceeded to reduce Yusuf’s scores to 853,939 by deducting 165,663 votes but left Gawuna’s scores at 890,705, a decision that Yusuf appealed at the Court of Appeal.