During the APC’s appeal, the appellant’s counsel, Abubakar Malami, SAN, pleaded with the court to disqualify the governor and the PDP candidate, advocating for his client to be declared the election winner.
Malami argued that the sponsorship and nomination of candidates for an election were constitutional matters.
He asserted, “It’s not just about the votes. Examining the constitutionality of membership and candidate sponsorship is a noble aspect. Section 177 of the Constitution supports this.
“The lower courts failed to provide sufficient evidence that the candidates were not properly sponsored. Evidence was presented but wrongly expunged by the trial court.”
Justice Helen Ogunwunmiju questioned Malami about the court’s decision to remove the evidence.
“The trial court deemed it an internal party matter. It’s not; it’s a constitutional issue,” Malami responded.
John Okoro interjected, stating, “Without your status as a SAN, this appeal seems futile.”
Malami, referring to section 177 (c), insisted that the nomination and sponsorship of the respondents should not be treated as an internal party matter.
He stated, “When nomination and sponsorship are at issue, it can’t be considered an internal party matter according to section 177 (c), and the court has jurisdiction over it. The notion that it’s an internal party matter doesn’t hold.”
INEC’s counsel, Nasiru Tijani, urged the court to dismiss the appeal with substantial cause.
Similarly, the second respondent’s counsel, Tobechukwu K., while urging the court to dismiss the appeal, noted that there was nothing new in the matter.
He emphasized that Section 177, cited by Malami, was meant to prohibit independent candidature.
Counsel for the fourth and fifth respondents, Udochi Iheanacho, stated that her clients resigned 30 days before the election. She urged the apex court to uphold the decisions of the lower courts.