The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday said that the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) application challenging Taraba Governorship Election Petition Tribunal’s territorial jurisdiction was “strange and misconceived’’.
APC Governorship Candidate, Sen. Aisha Alhassan, had approached the tribunal seeking to nullify the election of Gov. Darius Ishaku of PDP, and joined APC as co-petitioners, PDP and INEC as co-respondents.
Mr Mahmud Magaji (SAN), APC Counsel, in a counter-affidavit, submitted that the relocation of the venue of the tribunal from Jalingo to Abuja was based on security challenges.
Magaji, therefore, urged the court to refuse INEC’s application as the decision was not done with a view to denying any party the opportunity to put his or her case forward.
It will be recalled that INEC Counsel, Mr Aji Akamode, had filed a motion on notice dated and filed on June 24, 2015, praying the tribunal for an order to relocate to Jalingo.
Akamode urged the tribunal to set aside the decision to relocate the tribunal sitting from Jalingo to Abuja by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.
He also sought an order directing on whether or not the tribunal could or ought to sit outside Taraba, and if so, in what capacity.
Akamode submitted that the application was brought pursuant to paragraph 47 (2) and (3) of the 1st schedule of the Electoral Act 2010, and sections 36 (1) and 285 (2) of the Constitution.
“The tribunal decided to sit and determine the said petition in Abuja, FCT, outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal contrary to section 285 of the constitution and section 133 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.’’
Prior to Tuesday’s pre-trial proceedings, the tribunal had earlier ordered INEC to produce election materials used to conduct the election for inspection by the petitioners via a motion ex-parte filed by Alhassan’s counsel.
Alhassan is seeking to nullify the election which produce Ishaku as Taraba Governor on the ground of alleged electoral fraught, irregularities and other forms of malpractices and she be declared governor.
Justice Musa Abubakar, the tribunal Chairman, adjourned further hearing till July 31 to enable him to take INEC’s response to the petitioner’s counter affidavit on the issue of jurisdiction.