On May 19, 2023, several news outlets like the Daily Trust, PM News, Punch (in a now-deleted post), TVC News, Guardian, ICIR, Leadership, Business Day, The Street Journal, and The Sun, ran the news that the Federal High Court in Kano State had nullified the candidacy of Abia State governor-elect Alex Otti.
On Wait First, we divide claims into three categories. A valid claim is a fresh banana. A false claim is burnt dodo. And a misleading claim is cold zobo.
So, how valid is this claim?
[Alex Otti / Punch]
The period immediately after elections is often very litigious. Various courts and tribunals nationwide are neck-deep in suits and countersuits. This is because individuals and parties often contest election outcomes. For example, the Osun State governorship election was disputed all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court eventually in favour of Ademola Adeleke.
Similarly, one Ibrahim Haruna Ibrahim filed a suit against the Labour Party (LP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Federal High Court in Kano. This suit’s purpose was to seek to nullify the candidacy of all LP candidates in Kano and Abia States and for the court to revoke the certificates of return issued to all LP candidates declared winners in Kano and the 35 states of the Federation, including the FCT.
According to Premium Times, the judge cited the failure of the Labour Party to submit its membership registers to INEC ahead of the party’s primaries as the reason. A part of the judgement which the newspaper claimed to see on Friday, May 19, read:
“That the failure of the 1st defendant to submit its register of members in Kano State and Abia State is in crass breach of the provisions of section 77(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, and the purported Primary Elections of the 1st defendant is invalid, null and void and of no effect.”
Our partners, Fact-Check Elections, looked into this claim. Here’s what they found:
“FactCheckElections contacted a lawyer (Barrister Desmond Orisewezie) on the true interpretation of the judgment. When asked about the court’s true position and whether it has sacked the Abia state governor-elect, the lawyer said, ‘No, it only concerns Kano but has legal implications for Otti and Obi.’
A report credited to NAN states the Federal High Court sitting in Kano has denied nullifying the candidature of the Abia State governor-elect, Dr Alex Otti. “Candidates who participated in the 2023 general election in Abia were not parties before his court. This court lacks jurisdiction to make an order to issue a certificate of return,” Justice Muhammad Nasir-Yunusa was reported to have said.
Another report by Vreporters says the Kano Judge faults the media report of nullifying Abia state governor-elect candidature. “Media reports that it nullified the candidature of the Abia State governor-elect, Dr Alex Otti, who contested the election on the platform of the Labour Party, LP, are misleading,” said the court judge. However, he added that the court annulled the election of all the Kano LP candidates that contested the 2023 general election. Nasir-Yunusa said, “The court declared only the primary election of the Labour Party in Kano State null and void.”
Based on the evidence above, reports claiming that a court sacked Abia state governor-elect Alex Otti is misleading. It’s cold and undiluted zobo.