by ISE-OLUWA IGE
• Court adjourns to April 27
Less than 12 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared Aminu Tambuwal winner of the just concluded gubernatorial election in Sokoto State, a gubernatorial aspirant, Senator Umaru Dahiru, yesterday renewed his request before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to annul the ticket given to Tambuwal by the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Dahiru is contending that Tambuwal’s emergence as APC’s gubernatorial standard bearer in a primary poll that held on December 14, 2014, was irregular.
But Tambuwal, who is Speaker, House of Representatives, told the trial high court judge, Elvis Chukwu, yesterday that Dahiru was only wasting his time.
He argued that his prayers in the pre-election suit he filed to stop him from participating in the election had been overtaken by events, having not only participated in the election but also emerged victorious.
Tambuwal’s lawyer, Mr E. Okutepa, consequently made a formal application to the court yesterday that parties in the case be made to address the court on whether or not issues raised in Dahiru’s case had not become dead with the emergence of Tambuwal as governor of Sokoto State.
He said the need to address the matter became necessary as proceeding with a case with no live issue would amount to mere academic exercise. The APC’s counsel, Mr Sunday Ameh, also aligned with Okutepa’s argument.
But Dahiru’s counsel, Prof Awa Kalu, told the court yesterday that the issues raised in the suit were still alive and that Tambuwal was only expressing his wishful thinking.
“Let them file their papers and advance their arguments to demonstrate that the issues therein are no longer alive; we will respond to them appropriately.
“But I must say I disagree with that position,” Kalu said. Justice Chukwu consequently gave Tambuwal five days to file his paper and another five days to Dahiru to respond while he gave Tambuwal additional three days to respond on points of law.
The trial judge also fixed April 27 for parties to adopt their briefs. Dahiru, it would be recalled, had sued Tambuwal after the December 14 primaries in Sokoto where the House of Representatives speaker emerged the APC flag bearer in the just concluded party general election in the country.
He had contended that the primary poll which produced Tambuwal breached not only the provisions of 2010 Electoral Act but also APC’s electoral guidelines. The primary poll held December 14, 2014.
The suit, which was filed by former Attorney- General of Abia State, Prof Awa Kalu on behalf of Umaru Dahiru, specifically requested an order restraining INEC from placing Tambuwal’s name on the ballot for the 2015 governorship election pending the holding of fresh gubernatorial primaries by APC. Justice Steven Chukwu Evoh of the Abuja Federal high court had already assumed jurisdiction in the case.
Also listed as co-plaintiff in the case is Barr Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna, while APC, Aminu Tambuwal and INEC, were named as defendants.
In their claims, the plaintiffs alleged that APC officials denied all other aspirants for the primary poll except Tambuwal access to the delegates.
It was also alleged that the screening of delegates on the day of the primaries was not done between the stipulated hours of 8am and 12 noon, and that the list of the delegates as issued by the National Secretariat of APC was not used in the conduct of the said election of December 4, 2014.
Other ground on which Dahiru is seeking redress is that on election day, members of Sokoto State, its local government and state Assembly openly canvassed votes for Tambuwal.
“Also, in the open glare of spectators, voting was not conducted in secret as stipulated in the guidelines of APC, instead Tambuwal had his name written on ballot papers and those papers were freely distributed to delegates at the Ginginya Stadium, Sokoto, venue of the primaries election.
“It turned out that both accredited delegates and even non-delegates were issued with already filled ballot papers with the name of Tambuwal,” the plaintiffs stated.
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