Court Strikes Out Disqualification Suit against Gombe Gov
Alex Enumah in Abuja and Segun Awofedji in Gombe
Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday struck out a suit seeking the disqualification of Gombe State Governor, Mr Mohammadu Yahaya from the March 11 governorship election over alleged forgery.Justice Nyako struck out the suit for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and two of its chieftains in the state, Muhammed Barde and Hon. Timothy Danlele had approached the Federal High Court for an order disqualifying the governor in the forthcoming governorship poll in Gombe State, on account of allegedly submitting forged and false documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in aid of his qualification.
Defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1301/2022, include; the INEC, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and governor Yahaya. The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Mr. Johnson Usman, SAN, alleged that the governor lied on oath in documents he presented to INEC in aid of his qualification for the election.
According to them, whereas the governor, in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC for the 2019 governorship election, stated that he worked with A.Y.U&Co Ltd from1980-1990, the governor in the Form EC-9 he submitted to seek re-election, averred that he worked at the same company from 1985 to 2003.
They insisted that the 3rd defendant was inconsistent in the depositions he made on oath and therefore ought to be disqualified from participating in the gubernatorial election billed for March 11.
“That the 3rd defendant having submitted forged documents to the 1st defendant in his INEC form EC-9 in 2022 is not qualified to contest the governorship election of Gombe state”, the plaintiffs contended, adding that his action was in breach of both the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Electoral Act, 2022.
Aside from praying the court to declare that in view of the provisions of Sections 177(d) and 182 (I) (j) of the 1999 Constitution, as well as Section 84(3) and (13) of the Electoral Act, the governor, is not qualified to participate in the election, the plaintiffs further urged the court to compel INEC to expunge his name from the list of bonafide candidates for the impending governorship contest.
They equally prayed the court to restrain the 3rd defendant from parading himself as the governorship candidate of the APC in the state.
Meanwhile, both the APC and governor Yahaya, through their lawyer, Mr. Marshall Abubakar, challenged the competence of the suit, even as they persuaded the court to dismiss it for want of jurisdiction.
The defendants argued that PDP and its members lacked the locus standi (legal right) to institute an action to challenge the nomination of candidate by another political party.
According to the defendants, only members of a party and its aspirants can challenge the outcome of a primary election or the nomination of a candidate.
They argued that the plaintiffs failed to establish any reasonable cause of action, stressing that the suit had become statute barred since it was not filed within 14 days after INEC published governor Yahaya’s name as a candidate for the election.
However, Justice Nyako in her ruling yesterday , upheld the defendants’ preliminary objection and struck out the suit for want of competence.