Thursday, December 8

Governorship: Supreme Court decides Tambuwal, Ayade’s fate Friday

Governorship: Supreme Court decides Tambuwal, Ayade’s fate Friday

Tambuwal, Ayade

The Supreme Court will on Friday deliver judgment in the appeals brought before it challenging the propriety or otherwise of the nomination of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal by the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the 2015 gubernatorial election in the state.

Similarly, the apex court will also deliver judgment on the election of Professor Ben Ayade as the Governor of Cross River State.The apex 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.

The court will specifically 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 presided over the hearing of the matter fixed for Friday after the adoption of addresses by all the parties in the appeal.
Two appellants Alhaji Umaru Dahiru and Barrister Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna who were governorship aspirants on the APC platform in the 2015 general election filed the appeal.

The two appellants, in their brief of arguments, pleaded with the apex court to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeal which held that their suit had become academic exercise by virtue of the election of Tambuwal in the April 11, 2015 governorship poll.

They insisted that the lower court (Appeal Court) erred in law by holding that their joint suit has no life to sustain it simply because of the conducted general election, adding that the April 11, 2015 general election cannot take life out of their case or render it an academic exercise because the suit had been filed on January 27, 2015 long before the general election was conducted.

The appellants claimed that several frivolous motions and applications filed by the respondents at the federal high court in Abuja delayed the delivery of judgment until after the general election.

Their counsel argued that since all the delay tactics were at the instance of the respondents, the respondents should not be allowed to be beneficiaries of the unjust delays which made expeditious hearing practically impossible.

Respondents in the appeal are the APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

Tambuwal, through his counsel argued that the reliefs sought by the appellants at the Federal High Court have been overtaken by the general election and his declaration as winner of the April 11, 2015 election.

The appellants had at the federal high court sued Tambuwal and asked the court to declare that the primary poll 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 an order of the court restraining INEC from acting, publishing or recognizing Tambuwal as APC gubernatorial candidate and to nullify or withdraw the nomination of Tambuwal and that a fresh primary election be ordered.

Justice Evoh Stephen Chukwu (now deceased) 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.

In the case of governor Ayade of Cross River State, a five-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour fixed Friday for judgment in an appeal filed by Joe Agi (SAN), a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant in the 2015 governorship primary who is challenging the emergence of Governor Ben Ayade as the party’s candidate.

Agi’s counsel, N. P. Ibegbunam, while adopting his client’s written brief urged the court to uphold his client’s appeal against Ayade, adding that 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.

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.

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