PRIMARY ELECTION : Appeal Court Dismisses Suit Seeking Tambuwal’s Removal

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal by an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant, Senator Umar Dahiru, challenging the election of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as the Governor of Sokoto State.

In a ruling read by Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, the court also awarded a cost of N100,000 against the appellants.
Dahiru had filed the appeal challenging the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja which in June dismissed his suit and that of another APC governorship aspirant, Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna, on the ground that they could not prove the allegations of irregularities in the primary election conducted on December 40 2014.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole had ruled that even if the applicants had succeeded in proving that there were irregularities in the December 4, 2014 primary, the court could not grant the reliefs because it was not an election petitions tribunal and therefore lacked jurisdiction.

Counsel to the appellants Chief Roland Otaru SAN, while making his final submissions few weeks ago asked the Appeal Court to remove governor Tambuwal on the ground that he was not lawfully and validly elected as the APC gubernatorial candidate for the 2015 governorship elections.

He submitted that the APC constitution, primary election guidelines and the Electoral Act were grossly violated during the conduct of the December 2014 primary election.

The Senior Counsel argued that the disregard for the observance of due process got to the climax with the swapping of the delegate’s list by the governor to circumvent the rules provided for the conduct of the primary by the National Secretariat of the APC.

He then urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court which on June 22, 2017 upheld the primary election.

Otaru claimed that the Judge erred in law and engaged in mis-carriage of justice by going out of the counter claims of the respondents to arrive at his conclusion.

Specifically, the senior lawyer canvassed that the principal appellant, Senator Umaru Dahiru be declared the candidate of the APC in the 2015 governorship election.

However, the APC represented by Jibrin Okutepa SAN canvassed that the suit be dismissed for being vexatious and lacking in merit.

He submitted that the appellants were inconsistent in their pleadings having allegedly claimed that there was no primary election conducted and in another averment established that not all the authentic delegates were accredited for the primary election.

Besides, Okutepa claimed that the appellants changed the character of their case when in the originating summon they canvassed cancellation of the primary election for a fresh one but came back to seek that they be declared the winner of the same faulted primary poll.

“From the totality of the case of the appellants and from the list they submitted on their own, they admitted that 1620 delegates from the 23 local government areas of the state were accredited and in their inconsistent claim, came out to allege again that delegates were not accredited as required by law”.

“In the face of this glaring inconsistence, the case of the plaintiffs is liable to be dismissed, and I urge this court to do so and uphold the findings of the High Court on the issue” he said.

Counsel to Tambuwal, Ibrahim Sunday Ameh SAN canvassed the dismissal of the suit for lacking in merit.

Ameh claimed that the fulcrum of the case of the appellants was non accreditation of delegates adding that they did not establish their allegation as required by law in court.

In a ruling which lasted for more than two hours, Justice Agim held that on the contentious claims by the appellants that accreditation of voters did not take place on the day of the primary election, making wild allegations will not stand the test of evidence if it is not backed by enough proof.

He said the appellants made contradictory claims in the affidavits filed at the trial court having allegedly claimed that there was no primary election conducted and in another averment established that not all the authentic delegates were accredited for the primary election.

He said for the case to stand the test of proof, it must be consistent with consistent evidence.

On the grounds of appeal that accused the trial court of engaging in judicial rascality, Justice Agim held that the trial court did a diligent job and its ruling was consistent with the provisions of the Electoral Act, the APC guidelines for elections, and the Nigerian Constitution.

The Judge therefore dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.

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