Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
A five-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour has adjourned to December 9 for judgment in an appeal filed by Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, a People Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant in the 2015 governorship primary who is challenging the emergence of Governor Ben Ayade as the party’s candidate.
While adopting his client’s written brief yesterday, Agi’s counsel, N. P. Ibegbunam urged the court to uphold his client’s appeal against Ayade.
He said his client had since realised that Ayade gave false information about his age, and had thereby contravened the provision of the PDP guideline, which is supported by Section 177 of the Constitution.
“We are urging the court to apply the provisions of Articles 14(b) and 15(2) of the PDP Guideline which disqualify the 3rd respondent (Ayade),” he said.
When asked what law firm he belonged, Ibegbunam said he was a counsel in the firm of Ferdinand Orbih and Co.
The court asked the question after Ayade’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) drew the attention of the court to the fact that the brief was settled by Ferdinand Orbih and not Ibegbunam.
Agi, a member of the party and a governorship aspirant of the party is challenging Ayade’s qualification to contest the election on the platform of the PDP having allegedly made false claims about his age.
He alleged among others, that Ayade gave three birth dates – 1966, 1968 and 1969, a development he said contravened the provisions of Articles 14(b) and 15(2) of the PDP Electoral Guideline, the Electoral Act and by extension, the Constitution.
Justice Adamu Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja and the Court of Appeal, Abuja division dismissed Agi’s case on the grounds that he failed to prove the allegation and that the discrepancies in Ayade’s age resulted from his aides’ errors, prompting Agi to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Earlier, Agi’s lawyer, Ken Njemanze (SAN) had urged the court to uphold his client’s appeal and set aside the concurrent findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeal. Also, the apex court will on December 9, 2016 deliver judgment in an appeal challenging the propriety of nomination of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2015 gubernatorial election in the state.
The court will among others, determine whether Tambuwal was nominated in compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the APC 2014 Guidelines for the nomination of candidates for elective offices.
Specifically, the court will determine the issue of swapping of delegates list at the primary election of the APC said to have been conducted on December 4, 2014 at Giginya Stadium in Sokoto.
Justice Bode Rhodes Vivour who presided over a session of the court in the matter yesterday fixed the appeal for judgment after submissions by various parties in the appeal.
Two appellants, Alhaji Umaru Dahiru and Mr. Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna, who were governorship aspirants on the APC platform in the 2015 general election filed the appeal.
In their brief of arguments filed by Professor Awa Kalu (SAN), the two appellants pleaded with the apex court to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeal which held that their suit had become an academic exercise by virtue of the election of Tambuwal in the April 11, 2015 governorship poll.
In the brief of argument adopted by Mr. Ikoro M. Ikoro, the two appellants insisted that the lower court (Appeal Court) erred in law by holding that their joint suit had no life to sustain it because the general election had been concluded.
They argued that the April 11, 2015 general election did not take life out of their case or render it academic exercise because the suit had been filed on January 27, 2015 long before the general election was conducted.