The Court of Appeal in Lagos has dismissed the appeals filed against the election of Governor Alex Otti of Abia State.
The appeals were brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their respective governorship candidates.
The three-man Appeal Court panel on Saturday, December 2, 2023, upheld the victory of Otti at the polls, saying that it conformed with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The appellate court ruled that petitions brought by the appellants lacked in merit, as they were like “a comedy skit brought to a democratic setting”.
The court said issues of political party membership is a pre-election matter, which also falls within the jurisdiction of the political party.
It further said since Otti joined the Labour Party, won its primary election and submitted his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), he was qualified to contest.
On the issues of Bimodial Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, brought by the PDP and its candidate, the appeal court said the appellants failed to demonstrate or link their documentary evidence to the specific parts of the case.
The judgement has sparked celebration among the supporters of Governor Otti in some parts of the State.
In another development, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, issued a N25 million fine against Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, for violating the fundamental human rights of Alhassan Doguwa, the lawmaker representing Doguwa/Tundun Wada federal constituency at the House of Representatives.
Recall that on February 28, Doguwa was arrested at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, while boarding a flight to Abuja.
The police had said they received a report that he led thugs to set ablaze the secretariat of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in Kano.
Two persons were said to have died in the incident.
Although the legislator denied any wrongdoing, he was arraigned in March before a magistrate court in Kano and was later remanded in prison.
He was granted bail in the sum of N500 million by a federal high court after a few days in prison.
The charges were, however, withdrawn after the prosecution said it could not “find sufficient evidence to link Doguwa with the said offences”.
Doguwa, in turn, filed a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/831/23 seeking an order enforcing his fundamental rights.
The attorney-general of the federation (AGF), the inspector-general of police, the governor of Kano State and the Kano State Attorney-General (AG) are joined as 1st to 4th defendants respectively.
The governor and the AG, in their counter affidavit argued by their lawyer, M. K. Umar, said Doguwa was not facing prosecution for the violence during the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections in Kano or for being in possession of firearms.
Umar said Doguwa was wanted in Kano to answer to the allegation of homicide preferred against him by the state government.
According to the lawyer, there were new facts which needed to be investigated, adding that the AG had the power to review the case in the wake of the emerging evidence.
But Afam Osigwe, Doguwa’s lawyer, disagreed with Umar, stating that the police report on the incident, attached as exhibit 10, exonerated his client of wrongdoing.
The senior lawyer, who alleged a political witch-hunt against Doguwa, said his fundamental rights as enshrined in the law were threatened by the 3rd and 4th respondents.
Justice Donatus Okorowo, while delivering the judgment on Friday, Donatus Okorowo, agreed with the plaintiff that it was the same offence which the lawmaker was exonerated that the governor and the AG planned to review.
“It is hereby declared that the purported action of the 3rd and 4th respondents to review the legal advice dated 23rd May, 2023, and indeed the actual review of the legal advice dated May 23, 2023, with a view to arrest, detain, and prosecute the applicant on a fathom charge and without regards to the report of the 2nd respondent (I-G) is illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional and void.
”It amounts to an infraction of the applicant’s constitutional right to human dignity, personal liberty and freedom of movement.
“An order of perpetual injunction is hereby granted restraining the respondents, themselves, and by agents, howsoever described from further inviting, arresting or detaining the applicant with a view to review the 4th respondent legal advice dated 23 May, 2023, in so far as the respondents do proffer fresh evidence against the applicant.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further interfering with the fundamental rights of the applicant whatsoever.
“An order of this honourable court is hereby granted nullifying the purported 3rd respondent directive to review the fourth respondent legal advice dated May 23, 2023, with a view to arrest the applicant.
“General damages of 25 million only against the 3rd respondent only for causing the psychological pain and damage to the applicant’, Justice Okorowo ruled.