The Supreme Court hearing on the governorship elections appeal was going on Monday when one of the six Judges presiding over the hearing suddenly took ill, prompting the Chief Justice of Nigeria to reschedule the hearing.
The appeals arose from the verdicts of the election petition tribunals in Kano, Plateau, Bauchi, Benue, Imo, and Sokoto states.
The (INEC) had declared governors Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), and Samuel Ortom (Benue) as winners of the governorship elections in the respective states.
The states’ tribunals which served as Courts of Appeal, had adjudicated on the matter as courts of first instance and returned verdicts ratifying the decisions of the INEC.
Not satisfied with the verdicts, the litigants proceeded to the Supreme Court in search of justice.
The apex court which started sitting on the matters at exactly 9:02 am, however, could not proceed any further with any of the matters initially, due to the rowdiness in the courtroom.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, had to order the security operatives in the court to restore order.
However, 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, and who obviously violated the court’s decorum, the seven-member apex court panel rose to reconvene, to douse the tension inside the courtroom.
Justice Mohammed, before the court rose, further 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 immediately announced appearance.
When the lead counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Joseph Daudu (SAN), stood up to make his argument, the CJN interjected, announcing that one of the justices hearing the case is critically sick.
The CJN informed the crowded courtroom 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 courtroom to their chamber to enable them attend to the ailing judge whose name was not disclosed.
After about 40 minutes, 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 governorship election in the affected states.