Hearings in the appeals challenging the election of Governors Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, including three other governors, were on Monday suspended by the Supreme Court following the sudden ill health of one of the justices on the panel.
Other governors whose appeals were affected are Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and Simon Lalong (Plateau).
Before then the court had to suspend its sitting over rowdiness and disorder in the court.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared governors Emeka Ihedioha of Imo, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano, Simon Lalong of Plateau and Samuel Ortom of Benue as winners of governorship elections in their respective states.
The apex court which started sitting at exactly 9:02 a.m. could not proceed due to the noise level in the courtroom.
This prompted the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, to give an order following the inability of the security operatives to control the crowd of politicians and their supporters, who had besieged the courtroom to witness the day’s proceedings.
The seven-member panel rose and said it would reconvene if the noise inside the court is reduced.
Justice Mohammed, before the court rose, directed lawyers representing the parties in each appeal not to appear with more than five lawyers, in order to decongest the courtroom.
Thereafter, lawyers in each of the cases were limited to five and politicians who were not parties in any of the appeals were asked to leave the courtroom as the police deployed a dog to assist in the decongestion process.
After carrying out the directive of the CJN to decongest the courtroom, about ten minutes later, the court reconvened and lawyers involved in the Kano State appeal announced appearance.
When the lead counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Joseph Daudu, stood up to make his argument, the CJN announced that one of the justices hearing the case is critically sick.
The CJN told the crowded court that “due to unforeseen circumstances beyond control, the court will abruptly rise because one of us is sick.”
Consequently, Justice Mohammed led the other justices out of the court to their chamber to enable them to attend to the ailing judge whose name was not disclosed.
At about 40 minutes later, one of the registrars of the court announced that all appeals in the case have been adjourned to January 14.
The six appeals before the apex court were brought by various aggrieved candidates in the March 9 election in the affected states.
The apex court will hear the appeals filed by the governorship candidates and is expected to deliver judgement promptly or announce a date for the judgement
Meanwhile, there has been tension in Imo State following the announcement by the Supreme Court that it would deliver judgment on Monday on the petitions against the declaration of Emeka Ihedioha as the Governor of the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are upbeat that the Supreme Court would uphold Ihedioha’s victory, members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are hopeful that the judgment would go in their favour.
In Sokoto, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP won with a slim margin of 342 votes after a supplementary election.
The APC in Sokoto State and its governorship candidate, Alhaji Ahmed Sokoto, challenged the victory up to the Supreme Court.