ABUJA, Nigeria – The Supreme Court of Nigeria has affirmed the election of Ahmadu Fintiri as the Governor of Adamawa State, dismissing an appeal filed by Aishatu Ahmed, also known as Binani, the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate.
The decision, delivered by Justice John Okoro on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, concludes a legal challenge that questioned the legitimacy of the election results.
Justice Okoro, leading the five-member panel, declared that Ms. Dahiru’s appeal lacked merit.
The panel’s decision was influenced by the actions of an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa, who had prematurely declared Ms. Dahiru the winner while the collation of results was still in progress.
The Supreme Court held that the REC did not have the authority to announce election results.
Ms. Dahiru had urged the Supreme Court to recognize the REC’s declaration in line with Section 149 of the Electoral Act.
However, the apex court dismissed this argument, upholding the earlier judgement of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which had affirmed Mr. Fintiri’s election.
The Court of Appeal’s three-member panel, led by Tunde Awotoye, had earlier upheld the decision of the Adamawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
This Tribunal had declared Mr. Fintiri, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, the winner of the 18 March 2023 poll.
Ms. Dahiru’s appeal was based on alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
However, the appellate court found that her claims of electoral fraud in 14,104 polling stations were unsubstantiated.
The court noted the impossibility of three witnesses proving allegations of non-compliance across such a vast number of polling units, especially since they were not present at the polling units themselves but were campaign coordinators.
Additionally, the appellate court highlighted that the records of proceedings transmitted from the tribunal and the briefs to the court were incomplete.
In its unanimous judgement, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal for lacking merit, confirming the decision of the lower Tribunal and awarding a cost of N1 million against the petitioners in favour of Governor Fintiri and the PDP.
This judgement by the Supreme Court brings an end to the legal contest over the Adamawa State Governorship election, cementing Mr. Fintiri’s position as the duly elected Governor of the state.
The ruling is a significant affirmation of the electoral process and the judicial system’s role in upholding democratic principles.