Supreme Court on Friday declared Rufai Hanga the senatorial candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and senator-elect for Kano Central Senatorial District.
The Supreme Court nullified the candidacy of Ibrahim Shekarau, a former governor of Kano State, who defected from the NNPP to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the build-up to the general elections last year.
Mr Shekarau was the flagbearer of the NNPP for the Kano Central Senatorial zone before he ditched the party for the PDP.
But Mr Shekarau’s name remained on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s portal for candidates in the 25 February National Assembly election.
Mr Shekarau was reportedly absent when INEC issued certificates of return to senators-elect from across the country in Abuja on 7 March.
Delivering judgment on an appeal filed before it by INEC, the Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal both in Abuja which had upheld the candidature of Mr Hanga as the standard-bearer NNPP.
A five-member panel of the Supreme Court in a prepared by Uwani Aba-Aji but read by Emmanuel Agim, said INEC’s appeal lacked merit and substance.
Mr Agim dismissed the appeal in its entirety.
Mr Shekarau defected from the NNPP to the PDP in September 2022.
But, on 28 March, INEC declared Mr Shekarau winner of the Kano Central Senatorial District election on the platform of NNPP despite his resignation from the party before the 25 February presidential and National Assembly elections.
INEC’s returning officer for Kano Central District, Tijjani Darma, said Mr Shekarau garnered 456,787 votes.
Mr Darma, a professor, said the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Abdulkarim Abdulsalam, came second in the election with 168, 677 votes, while PDP’s Laila Buhari polled 55,237 votes.
But, after the declaration of the results, NNPP agent, Shehu Usman, rejected Mr Shekarau’s emergence as winner of the poll. He alleged that INEC refused to replace Mr Shekarau’s name with Mr Hanga’s.
Referencing the decisions of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, Mr Usman said INEC was ordered to accept Mr Hanga’s name and substitute it with Mr Shekarau’s for the poll.
Yet, the electoral umpire refused to comply with the orders.