A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday affirmed the election of Aminu Tambuwal as the duly nominated candidate of the All Progressive Congress in the Sokoto governorship election 2015.
The court held that the suit filled by Senator Umaru Dahiru that challenge the nomination tambuwal as APC candidate lacked merit.
The court held that the plaintiff was unable to prove the alleged irregularities in the APC primaries.
Senator Umaru Dahiru had challenged the conduct of the primary election that produced Tambuwal as candidate of APC on grounds that it was fraught with fraud.
The appellants were governorship aspirants on the APC platform in the 2015 general election
The appellants claimed that the primary election of APC conducted in December 4, 2014 in Sokoto was fraudulent because the original list of the delegates for the primary election was swapped in favour of Tambuwal by some external forces.
The appellants prayed the Court to declare that the primary election held in 2014 which produced Tambuwal as unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void and inconsistent with the Electoral Act, 2010 and the APC guidelines.
They claimed that the list of accredited delegates was swapped at the election venue and that votes were arbitrarily, unlawfully and fraudulently allocated to the aspirants after series of manipulations, intimidation and threat from INEC officials.
But in a judgment, Friday, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that the plaintiff, Senator Dahiru failed to prove the allegation of irregularities resulting from non compliance to the Electoral Act, the constitution as well as the APC constitution and guidelines for the conduct of the primary elections.
The Judge said, “Of what use will it be for the court to grant the plaintiffs reliefs, setting aside the primary election that produced Tambuwal and ordering a fresh primary election, which will require a fresh conduct of the governorship election in Sokoto state”.
He agreed with the respondents that granting the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs will amount to a violation of the constitution and the rules of the court.
“Having looked at submissions of parties in the matter, I have come to a conclusion that the plaintiffs suit failed and all the reliefs sought are hereby dismissed”, he said.
The court had, on May 23, 2017 fixed Friday to deliver the judgment after counsel in the matter adopted their briefs and final arguments in the legal tussle over Sokoto State governorship seat.
Recalled that Senator Dahiru had dragged the APC, Tambuwal and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the court praying for an order to nullify and set aside the Sokoto state APC primary election that produced Tambuwal on the grounds that its was not in compliance with Electoral Act 2010, the APC guidelines and the party’s Constitution.
Arguing the originating summons on behalf of the plaintiff, Chief Rowland Otaru (SAN) urged the court to void and set aside the primary election that produced Tambuwal for the 2015 governorship election in Sokoto state.
His ground was that the constitution of the APC and party guidelines of the primary election and the Electoral Act were violated in the conduct of the primary election.
Otaru claimed that in breach of the rules guiding the primary election, verification and accreditation of delegates were not done in spite of the fact they were mandatory.
He said the plaintiff has been able to show the court that there was no compliance to the Electoral Act, rules and constitution of the party, and said, ‘that shows that the purported primary election was a nullity”.
Otaru urged the court to take a judicial notice of the list containing the names of the delegates who participated in the primary and the report of the APC, adding that there was no evidence of verification and accreditation in compliance with the relevant laws and urged the court to set aside the purported primary election that produced Tambuwal.
While urging the court to dismiss the suit as filed by the plaintiff, counsel to the APC, Jubril Okutekpa (SAN) drew the attention of the court to the affidavit evidence of the plaintiff prepared in 2014, where he admitted that accreditation of delegates was conducted and further affidavit of the same plaintiff prepared in 2017 where the plaintiff made a U-turn that no accreditation was done.
Okutekpa said the plaintiff should not have commenced the proceedings via originating summons, in view of Order 6 Rule 7 of the Federal High Court
On the issue of accreditation, he submitted that a litigant must be consistent in filing his pleading, supply of evidence and in address and added that the burden is on the plaintiff to call the delegates to come to court to show that they were not accredited.
“This case is bereft of any evidential support to merit any declaration to be made in the favour of the plaintiff. The case taken to the Supreme Court was whether the case of the plaintiff was academic and the apex court said it was not, that is why we are here”, Okutepa told the court and urged the court to dismiss the case of the plaintiff and uphold the nomination of Tambuwal.
In his argument counsel to Tambuwal Sunday Ameh (SAN), aligned himself with the submission of the APC counsel adding that it is too late for the plaintiff who admitted in January 2015 that accreditation was done to make a U-turn in 2017 that there was no accreditation of delegates.
Ameh further submitted that the period for primary election has expired in line with 1999 Constitution and as such the case of the plaintiff had died and become academic.
He said what the plaintiff wants the court to do from the questions formulated for determination is for the court to gather document and sieve through to determine what reliefs he is entitled to.
Alhassan Umar, who represented INEC, told the court that electoral body will remain neutral and abide by the decision of the Court.
But Justice Kolawole upheld that Tambuwal was validly elected.