It is not the best of times for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the Taraba State Election Petition Tribunal, yesterday, sacked Governor Darius Ishaku, its candidate in the April 11 gubernatorial poll, from office.
tribunal, which sat at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, in a
unanimous judgment by a three-man panel of judges, yesterday,
declared Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan of the All Progressives
Congress, APC, as the winner of the poll.
the meantime, Aisha Alhassan is one of the 37 ministers-designate
expected to be sworn-in by President Muhammadu Buhari next week.
Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had concluded
the Taraba State governorship election on April 25, after the initial
poll was declared inconclusive.
In its judgment, the Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar-led tribunal said it
was satisfied that Ishaku was not validly nominated by the PDP to
contest the election.
tribunal maintained that there was overwhelming evidence that the PDP
in Taraba sidelined the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, and the
1999 Constitution, as amended, when it decided to hold the primary
election that produced Ishaku as its candidate in Abuja instead of
Jalingo, the state capital.
held that the purported nomination of the governor for the election,
without a valid primary election monitored by INEC, was in breach of
Sections 85, 87 and 138(1) of the Electoral Act 2010, as well as Section
177 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The tribunal stressed that the governorship primary election, the PDP
held at its National Headquarters in Abuja, on December 11, 2014, was
not known to the law and was, therefore, invalid.
the panel held that the PDP failed to give cogent and verifiable reason
why it decided to hold the said primary election in Abuja without the
consent of INEC.
According to the tribunal, it is a fundamental law in Nigeria that a
candidate for an elective position must be duly nominated and sponsored
by a registered political party before the candidature of such person
could be deemed to be legally valid.
said that the proof of evidence, adduced before it by all the parties,
showed that the PDP did not conduct a valid primary election that could
have led to the emergence of anybody as its sponsored candidate for the
the tribunal noted that INEC confirmed that it was not part of the
primary election that produced Ishaku as the PDP candidate, saying
Section 85 of the Electoral Act made it mandatory that PDP must give the
electoral body 21 days notice before it could hold a convention or
primary to nominate its governorship candidate.
the tribunal held that, in view of the fact that Ishaku was not
sponsored by any known registered political party in Nigeria, he could
not lay claim to votes cast for any political party at the April 11
election nor could he claim that he took part in the poll as an
all the votes Ishaku secured at the election as invalid, the
tribunal, ordered that the APC candidate, Alhassan, having scored the
second highest votes at the poll, be sworn-in as the winner of the
governorship election in Taraba State.
It directed INEC to immediately withdraw the certificate of return it issued to Ishaku and issue a fresh one to Alhassan.
tribunal said it was not unaware of the portion of the law that forbade
it from directing the governor to vacate his seat. However, it said
that, in the instant case, it had the power to remove the PDP governor
on the grounds of his non-qualification to participate in the poll.
the tribunal dismissed the allegation by the APC and its candidate that
the Taraba governorship election was marred by over-voting.
petitioners had contended that the number of votes recorded during the
election far exceeded the number of voters accredited by the card reader
It was the position of the tribunal that mere reliance on data captured
by the card readers was not sufficient for the petitioners to prove that
there was over voting.
the tribunal dismissed four separate preliminary objections that
challenged it’s jurisdiction to entertain the petition as well as the
locus standi of the petitioners to file same.
The APC and its candidate, Alhassan, had gone before the tribunal to challenge the victory of Ishaku of the PDP at the polls.
petitioners prayed the tribunal to void the governorship poll for
corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the provisions of
the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
also urged the tribunal to disqualify the 1st respondent, Ishaku, and
hold that all votes credited to him during the election were “wasted and
thrown away votes”.
petitioners through their lead counsel, Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko,
SAN, told the tribunal: “Contrary to the provisions of Section 85 of the
Electoral Act, which requires the service of at least 21 days to INEC
before the holding of congress for the conduct of primary election, the
2nd respondent (PDP) only delivered their notice to INEC on December 11,
2014, at exactly 6:04pm and held the purported primaries on the same
day. This was apparently after they has conducted the said primary.
in defiance of the requirement of Section 87 of the Electoral Act, the
2nd respondent held the purported primary at Abuja as against Jalingo,
Taraba State capital.
relying on their earlier notice to INEC for the holding of the primary
at the Taraba State capital, INEC (3rd respondent) sent their monitoring
team to observe the primary election on December 8, 2014, but the
congress did not hold without any explanation from the party.
in flagrant disregard to the demand of the Electoral Act 2010, the 1st
and 2nd respondents held their primary in Abuja without approval from
“That by reason of paragraphs i, ii, iii, and iv above, the 1st
respondent was not duly sponsored by his political party as required
under section 177(c) of the 1999 constitution nor duly sponsored, the
1st respondent is/was not qualified to have contested the gubernatorial
election that held in Taraba State on April 11 and 25, 2015”.
Ishaku has a maximum of 21 days to appeal the judgment of the tribunal.
PDP blames Buhari
Reacting to the verdict, last night, the PDP leadership described it as a plot by Buhari to use all means, especially the tribunals, to decimate the opposition.
According to the party, the judgment was an evidence of executive interference in the judiciary.
The PDP was, however, optimistic that the Court of Appeal would restore its “mandate”.
In a statement by the PDP National
Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party noted that the reason
given by the tribunal for arriving at what it described as the bizarre
decision was intriguing and further exposes the contradictions and
double standards inherent in most tribunal rulings against PDP interests
APC hails verdict
But the National Women Leader of the APC, Hajia Ramatu Aliyu, asked
Nigerian women to support the judgment, describing it as a watershed.
Aliyu, in a statement, said the judiciary displayed boldness and
unfettered commitment to the sacred principles of honour, good
conscience and truth.
She said: ”It is a clear affirmation that no matter how long it
takes, never will the verdict of the people during elections be
manipulated against their popular choice as expressed through the ballot
box. Indeed, by the ruling, it has been proven that true democracy,
sovereignty ultimately resides with the inviolable will of the people.
”I call on Nigerian women to rally support for the Tribunal’s ruling,
especially in the circumstances that it remains a priceless watershed
in our political history for our great Party to produce the first
elected female Governor in Nigeria as desired and manifestly by the
electorate in Taraba State.
”I exhort the Judiciary to remain alive to its avowed commitment to
dispensing justice to all, man or woman, rich or poor, without fear or
favour especially, in our collective effort to enthrone and sustain an
enduring constitutional democracy rooted in free and fair
elections.,respect for the rule of law and the wishes of the people.”