- Says sacking council chairmen, councillors by Fayemi in 2010 illegal
By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Supreme Court yesterday ordered a new trial of a suit challenging the emergence of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2015 governorship election in Sokoto.
The court declined to invoke Section 22 of the Supreme Court to act as court of first instance to determine the issues in disputes between the parties.
A member of APC, Senator Umaru Dahiru, contested for the governorship election in the December 2014 primaries of the APC, but lost to Tambuwal, who eventually went on to win the gubernatorial poll conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in April 2015 and was subsequently sworn-in as Governor on May 29 of the same year.
Dahiru and one other candidate, Barrister Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna were dissatisfied and applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking to be declared the party’s candidate for the election.
The appellants had at the Federal High Court sued Tambuwal and asked the court to declare that the primary of December 4, 2014 which produced him was 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 manipulation, intimidation and threat from the then state government officials backing the third respondent.
They asked for the court order restraining INEC from acting, publishing or recognizing Tambuwal as APC gubernatorial candidate.
They also prayed for an order nullifying or withdrawing the nomination of Tambuwal and that a fresh primary election be ordered.
Justice Evoh Stephen Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja ruled in their favour.
But the Appeal Court in its judgment delivered by justice Moore Adumein set aside the decision of the trial court and held that the reliefs of the plaintiffs cannot be granted again in view of the 2015 governorship poll already won by Tambuwal.
Friday’s ruling followed an earlier judgement given by the Supreme Court in June this year which dismissed application by the Sokoto State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Senator Abdallah Wali, to be joined as parties to Dahiru’s suit.
In a judgement written by Hon Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammed and read by Hon Justice Cletus Nweze, the court held that rather than consider the case as mere academic exercise, the high court should re-try the case on its merit.
The Supreme Court subsequently set aside and voided the decision of the court of appeal which had earlier held that events had overtaken the action against the nomination of Tambuwal on the strength of the April 2015 governorship election. The apex court said that to uphold the decision of the Appeal Court and the claims of Tambuwal that the case against him had become academic exercise and had no life again, would amount to murdering democracy.
Counsel to Tambuwal, Paul M. Kassim Esq, who led six other lawyers, said the defence were satisfied with the ruling and would get set for trial at the Federal High Court.
“Our position remains unchanged, that our client was validly nominated by the APC and was duly elected Governor by the good people of Sokoto State,” he told reporters after the judgement.
In the June ruling by now retired Justice Sulaiman Galadima JSC, the Supreme Court had held that PDP and Wali lacked the locus standi to apply to be joined in the suit, describing the two as interlopers who should not take part in a matter purely involving another party.
Even though Sokoto PDP had announced that they would not challenge the election of Tambuwal in 2015, they however, through case number SC/67/2016, sought to be joined as parties in Dahiru’s suit on the grounds that if it succeeds, Wali should be declared winner of the election. In a notice of motion for joinder filed at the apex court by EK Ashiekaa SAN, Wali and PDP contended that having participated in the 2015 governorship election, and having scored the next highest number of votes cast after that of Tambuwal, they have sufficient grounds to be joined in the case.