The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has reserved judgment in a legal action seeking to unseat Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State on account of non-compliance with laws in the conduct of the primary election that produced him in 2014 as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC.
The appeal was filed by Umaru Dahiru and Aliyu Sanyinna, who were governorship aspirants in the December 4, 2014 APC governorship primary election in Sokoto but lost out due to alleged swapping of the delegates list by the governor.
Respondents in the appeal are the APC, Mr. Tambuwal and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Justice Abubakr Yahaya who presided over two other justices of the appellate court reserved the verdict of the court after counsel in the suit made their final brief of arguments to back up their respective reliefs sought at the court.
Counsel to the appellants Roland Otaru, while making his final submissions asked the appeal court to remove Mr. Tambuwal as governor on the ground that he was not lawfully and validly elected as the APC gubernatorial candidate for the 2015 governorship elections.
He submitted that the APC constitution, primary election guidelines and the Electoral Act were grossly violated during the conduct of the December 2014 primary election.
The senior counsel argued that the disregard for the observance of due process got to the climax with the alleged swapping of the delegate’s list by the governor to circumvent the rules provided for the conduct of the primary by the national secretariat of the APC.
Mr. Otaru informed the panel of justices that the two appellants attached the authentic delegates to their originating summon to confirm that none of the names on the list was ticked to establish accreditation of delegates for conduct of the primary election. He added that the failure of the respondents to produce the list of accredited delegates to rebut the claims of the appellants was fatal to the case of the respondents.
He then urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court which on June 22, 2017 upheld the primary election.
Mr. Otaru claimed that the judge erred in law and engaged in mis-carriage of justice by going out of the counter claims of the respondents to arrive at his conclusion.
Specifically, the senior lawyer canvassed that the principal appellant, Umaru Dahiru, be declared the candidate of the APC in the 2015 governorship election.
However, the APC, represented by Jibrin Okutepa, canvassed that the suit be dismissed for being vexatious and lacking in merit.
He submitted that the appellants were inconsistent in their pleadings having allegedly claimed that there was no primary election conducted and in another averment established that not all the authentic delegates were accredited for the primary election.
Besides, Mr. Okutepa claimed that the appellants changed the character of their case when in the originating summon they canvassed cancellation of the primary election for a fresh one but came back to seek that they be declared the winner of the same faulted primary poll.
“From the totality of the case of the appellants and from the list they submitted on their own, they admitted that 1620 delegates from the 23 local government areas of the state were accredited and in their inconsistent claim, came out to allege again that delegates were not accredited as required by law”.
“In the face of this glaring inconsistence, the case of the plaintiffs is liable to be dismissed, and I urge this court to do so and uphold the findings of the High Court on the issue,” he said.
Also, counsel to Mr. Tambuwal, Ibrahim Ameh, canvassed the dismissal of the suit for lacking in merit.
Mr. Ameh claimed that the fulcrum of the case of the appellants was non-accreditation of delegates adding that they did not establish their allegation as required by law in court.
The counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Tanimu Inuwa, also supported the submission for dismissal of the suit.
Justice Yahaya after the adoption of the arguments by lawyers said that the date for judgment will be communicated to parties in the suit by the court.