An Abuja Federal High Court on Monday fixed April 27 for hearing in a pre-election suit filed by Senator Umaru Dahiru, a Sokoto State APC governorship aspirant, seeking to nullify the emergence of House of Reps Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, as APC candidate in the primary election held on December 14, 2014.
Dahiru, in the suit filed by his lawyer, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), has Mr Aliyu Sanyinna as co-plaintiff, while the APC, Aminu Tambuwal and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were joined as co-defendants.
The trial judge, Justice Chukwu, fixed the date for parties to adopt their briefs after hearing the submissions of counsel to the parties in the suit.
He gave Tambuwal five days to file his paper and another five days to Senator Dahiru to respond, and an additional three days to Tambuwal to respond on points of law.
On Monday’s mentioning of the case, Dahiru’s counsel argued that Tambuwal’s emergence as APC’s gubernatorial candidate in the primary elections held on December 14, 2014, was irregular.
He had argued in the originating summons that the primary election which produced Tambuwal breached not only the provisions of the 2010 Electoral Act, but also the APC’s electoral guidelines.
Responding, Mr E. Okutepa, (SAN), Tambuwal’s counsel, argued that the suit had been overtaken by events, since his client had not only participated in the election but also emerged victorious as Sokoto State Governor-elect.
Consequently, he made an oral application that parties in the case be made to address the court on whether or not issues raised in Dahiru’s case had not become dead with the emergence of Tambuwal as Sokoto State Governor-elect.
He said the need to address the issue arose from the fact that proceeding with a case with no live issue would amount to a mere academic exercise.
APC counsel, Mr Sunday Ameh (SAN), in his submission also aligned with Okutepa’s argument.
Dahiru’s counsel had in the originating summons specifically requested for an order restraining INEC from placing Tambuwal’s name on the ballot for the 2015 governorship elections, pending the holding of fresh gubernatorial primaries by APC.
The plaintiff had alleged that APC officials denied all other aspirants, except Tambuwal, access to the delegates during the primaries held in Sokoto.
The screening of delegates on the day of the primaries, the plaintiff argued, was not done between the stipulated hours of 8am and 12 noon, and that the list of the delegates as issued by the APC National Secretariat was not used in the conduct of the said election.
Dahiru’s counsel further submitted that on the day of election, members of the Sokoto State and Local Governments, as well as members of the State Assembly openly canvassed for votes for Tambuwal.
The plaintiff, therefore, prayed the court for an order directing APC to withdraw the nomination and sponsorship of Tambuwal as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC and to hold another governorship primary election in Sokoto State within a reasonable time stipulated by the court.
He also prayed for an order directing INEC to expunge Tambuwal’s name from its register of governorship candidates for the 2015 governorship elections, pending the holding of fresh gubernatorial primaries in Sokoto State by the APC.
The plaintiff further urged the court to grant an order of interlocutory injunction restraining INEC from placing Tambuwal’s name on the ballot for the 2015 governorship election pending the holding of gubernatorial primaries by APC.
Dahiru also urged the court to declare that it was unlawful for INEC to act on a candidate nominated by the APC, when such a candidate was elected in violation of APC’S electoral guidelines and the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.