After over seven months of legal battles from the Election Tribunal to the Court of Appeal, eight governors are now safe to retain their embattled seats.
This is courtesy of the Supreme Court’s judgment on the various gubernatorial election contests on January 12, 2024, which upheld the elections; some of which were earlier nullified by the Appeal Court.
The lucky governors are Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Abba Yusuf of Kano, Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State, Lawal Dauda of Zamfara State, Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi State, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Bassey Otu of Cross River, and Alex Otti of Abia State.
Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State had his victory reaffirmed last Thursday.
The judgment by the Supreme Court which upheld the election of the governors averted crisis that could have erupted, particularly in Kano, Plateau, Bauchi and Zamfara state.
Taking a look at the various states, in Lagos, the distraction is now over for Sanwo-Olu, who the INEC declared winner of the Lagos gubernatorial election held in March 2023.
The re-elected governor polled a total of 762,134 votes to defeat his closest rivals, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party, who got 312,329, and Olajide Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 62,449 votes.
Unhappy with the outcome, Rhodes-Vivour and Adediran dragged the winner to the tribunal.
They anchored their appeals on their prime argument that Sanwo-Olu’s nomination as a candidate for the election was invalidated by the fact that his running mate, Obafemi Hamzat, was ineligible to run with him because he holds dual citizenship in Nigeria and the United States.
Earlier, the Lagos Governorship Election Tribunal dismissed the case Rhodes-Vivour and Adediran filed on September 25, 2023, seeking to invalidate Sanwo-Olu’s election.
They later headed to the Court of Appeal to seek redress.
In November 2023, the Court of Appeal in Lagos dismissed Rhodes-Vivour’s appeal, affirming the tribunal’s decision to reject the witness who testified about Hamzat, the Lagos deputy governor, allegedly renouncing Nigerian citizenship.
The court also dismissed the PDP appeal.
The petitioners then proceeded to the Supreme Court with their arguments.
A panel of justices of the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the governor’s election, dismissing appeals from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party along with their governorship candidates.
Expressing gratitude to God, Sanwo-Olu welcomed the court’s verdict, which reaffirmed the stance of Lagosians, who freely voted on March 18, 2023.
He reiterated his earlier statement from the acceptance speech in March, emphasising the absence of winners or losers in the election.
“Our approach to governance since May 29, 2019 is a clear example of inclusive governance, which we believe in and stand for.
“I, therefore, invite those who are still standing on the fence to show their love for our dear state by joining the train of progressive governance. We do not profess a monopoly of ideas,” the governor said in a statement on Friday.
Reacting to the Supreme Court judgment, Rhodes-Vivour said that the apex court has set a shocking precedent where a governor or president could have multiple allegiances to other countries other than Nigeria and still be the commander-in-chief of Lagos State.
He wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) account, “Today, the Supreme Court set a precedent: a governor or president can have multiple allegiances to states other than Nigeria and still be the chief security officer of Lagos or Nigeria.
“While I submit to this shocking decision of the Supreme Court, I worry for what this precedent holds for future generations being led by leaders with conflicts of interest and loyalty.”
Toeing a different line, Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran (JANDOR), the Lagos People’s Democratic Party 2023 governorship candidate, congratulated Babajide Sanwo-Olu following the Supreme Court declaration of his victory on Friday, describing it as the last rung of the litigation ladder where he needs to cease fire.
Adediran made this disclosure in a statement he issued after the ruling, adding that though not quite pleased that the verdict favoured Sanwo-Olu, he is confident that constitutional provisions to seek redress were fully explored to right the perceived electoral wrong.
“We have expressed our reservation on the conduct and the outcome of the election by taking advantage of the provisions of the constitution and the electoral law to file a petition at the election tribunal through to the Appeal court and finally, the Supreme Court.
“This is not the outcome we envisaged or worked so hard for. But I am very proud of the values we share and the vision we hold for our dear state. And for the very robust, vast, diverse, people-centered and rural-network campaign that we built and executed together,” he said.
For Abba Kabir Yusuf, the stormy weather is over following the judgment that affirmed his election as Kano State governor.
The ten-month battle started from the polling units down to the apex court of the land following the power shift in the north-western state from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in the 2023 general election.
Reacting to the judgment, Yusuf said that he is happy, adding that the court confirmed that there was no illegality during the March 2023 election in the state.
“I feel extremely happy; as you can see, so many people are happy and cheering.
“The Supreme Court has confirmed that there was no illegality as far as the election is concerned,” Yusuf said.
Lawal Dauda was also excited that the Supreme Court upheld his election, describing it as a victory for democracy.
With the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment on Friday, Francis Nwifuru, governor of Ebonyi State, is now more focused and poised to deliver dividends of democracy to residents.
The governor noted that the mandates of the people would have been truncated had the apex court ruled otherwise.
“The judgment, which was delivered by the erudite judges has finally nailed the protracted legal battle challenging the sincerity of purpose, courage of conviction, equity, fairness and justice- the fulcrum that our coming to power hinged,” he said.
Likewise in Bauchi, the unsettled governorship dispute is over and Bala Mohammed has already taken to the social media to celebrate his reaffirmed victory.
According to the governor, his victory reaffirms that the good work in Bauchi State must go on.
In Plateau State, the reaffirmed victory is a call for more work for Caleb Mutfwang, whose state has been besieged by terrorists and bandits.
However, the civil society organisation (CSOs) and Nigerians are reacting to the Supreme Court’s verdicts.
“I am very happy that my governor won, I was so afraid after most of our party elected officials were sacked by the tribunal and higher court. I hope this can make Governor Caleb to sit down and do the work he was elected to do”, John Matthew, a Plateau PDP member, said.
But some APC members in Zamfara disagreed with the apex court ruling, insisting that the party was cheated.
“I am not a happy man today, but what can I do, let us wait for 2027,” Umar Sanni, an APC member in Zamfara, said.
Also reacting, Shehu Sani, former Kaduna State senator, congratulated Governor Yusuf on his X account. He said, “Congratulations to Governor Abba Yusuf for the Supreme Court victory.”
Reacting to the judgment on the Kano State governorship election in his X account, Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) said: “They have affirmed Kano for NNPP not because they wanted to but because they dread the consequences! #RevolutionNow #NoGreeForAnybody.”
Similarly, Bashir Ahmad, a media aide to former President Muhammadu Buhari, said he hoped that the Supreme Court’s declaration of Abba Kabir Yusuf as the duly elected Governor of Kano State, would bring the best for Kano, and its citizens.
“With Abba Yusuf now firmly in office, without distractions from any quarter, we are only expecting the best from him as we look forward to his effective governance. May Allah (SWT) guide him to be a fair and just leader for all the people of Kano.”
Aisha Yesufu, a political commentator, said: “Supreme Court did right with Kano. NNPP won the election. The mandate of the people must at all times be allowed to be.”
Another X user, Dipo Awojide, said, “NNPP wins Kano. PDP wins Bauchi. APC wins Lagos. Democracy is not in danger today. God bless PDAPCNNPP.
“NNPP retains Kano. APC will seek to work with Kwankwaso and NNPP in 2027. Power goes back to the North in 2031 so he can slug it out with Kashim Shettima, Nasir El Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu when the time comes – all things being equal,” he added.
“Today is a peaceful and joyful day for the majority of the people in Kano state. They voted for @Kyusufabba as their supreme leader to govern the state with respect, dedication & honesty. Unlike the previous government, he will lead by example & not destroy the state’s economy,” another user, Prince Hassan, said on X.
John Otu, a member of the good governance initiative and pro democracy activist, said it was bad that the court should be the one deciding election winners in the country. He called for the amendment of the law to allow the citizen to determine the winner of the election in 2027.
“Final power on who governs should be with the people and not the court, that should be the target when amendment is to be done on the Electoral Act,” he said.