How Sudden Illness of Supreme Court Justice, Suspends Fate of Ganduje, Tambuwal, 4 Other Governors
But for the sudden illness of a Supreme Court Justice on Monday, the fate of six governors whose election are currently being challenged would have been decided by the apex court in Abuja.
The Supreme Court had listed a total of 13 political cases which includes 8 appeals and 5 cross appeals for hearing and possibly determination, owing to the time bound nature of the cases.
Among the appeals listed for Monday were that of Abba Yusuf against the election of Kano Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Ahmed Aliyu against Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, and Mohamed Abubakar against the election of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.
Others are the trio appeals of Ifeanyi Ararume, Hope Uzodinma and Uche Nwosu against the election of Emeka Ihedioha: Senator Jeremiah Useni against Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and Emmauel Jime against election of Samuel Ortom as Governor of Benue State.
However with the exception of Bauchi Governor, all other governors whose elections were being challenged filed cross appeals also in the matter at the apex court.
Early signs that the matters may not go as scheduled emerged when the court rose few minutes after it commenced sitting for the day’s proceedings.
Chairman of the seven member panel and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, had announced a stand down of the cases, to bring sanity into the courtroom which at the time had been virtually taken over by politicians and their supporters.
It took the intervention of policemen attached to the Supreme Court to bring the court’s population to a bearable size.
However when the court resumed again, circumstances beyond the court’s control forced a second stand down of proceedings.
Being a constitutional case, the various appeals must be heard and determined by a seven member panel.
Shortly after Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, lawyer to Abbah Yusuf adopted his written addresses as his brief of argument seeking the setting aside of the decision of the Court of Appeal which upheld the election of Governor Ganduje as Kano State Governor, the apex court again announced a stand down of proceedings.
But this time it is as a result of the illhealth of a member of the panel.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Joseph Daudu SAN, was on his feet to adopt his brief of argument, when the CJN cuts in, “Due to circumstances beyond control, the court has to rise”, Justice Muhammad said before adding, “A member of the panel suddenly took ill”.
Although the CJN did not mention the name of the Justice who suddenly took ill nor the nature of the ailment, however a source at the Supreme Court gave the name of a South South Justice in the seven member panel hearing the various appeals.
Besides the CJN other members of the panel include; Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Kudirat Keke- Ekun, Justice John Okoro, Justice Aminu Sanusi and Justice Uwani Aba-Aji.
However after about an hour the matter was stood down a senior official of the Supreme Court announced to the court that hearing in all the appeals slated for the day have been adjourned to the following day, Tuesday January 14, 2020 for hearing.
Meanwhile, a senior lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, however told journalists outside the courtroom that the adjourndment would not make the cases statute barred.
It is expected that the Supreme Court just like in previous governorship election cases would hear the appeals and gives it verdict same day.
Though the apex court was yet to sack any of the governors whose elections were brought before it for determination however there was strong fear that the court may spring surprises when it finally takes a decision on the matters.
Only last week the apex court upheld the election of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and three others in four separate appeals against their elections.
The court had last December decided the cases involving eight other governors and returned all of them in its verdict.