Senator Aisha Alhassan has lost the battle to claim the Taraba state Government House today as the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja upturned the verdict of the election tribunal and ruled that the method of nomination of a candidate should not be one of the grounds for disqualification for the election as stated in the constitution and the electoral act.
The five man panel of justices led by Justice Abdul Aboki also ruled that the issue of PDP primary which produced Governor Darius Ishaku was a pre-election matter that should not have been entertained by the Tribunal.
The court ruled that only INEC and members of PDP who participated in the primary election have the right to complain.
The Court said whether the primary of a political party was done right or not cannot be subject of an election petition.
The court said the most important question was whether the appellant was a member of PDP and was sponsored by the party for the gubernatorial.
The court ruled that Ishaku was validly nominated candidate of PDP for the election and he participated in the election.
In the judgment of the court, Alhassan and APC have no right to challenge the election in which Ishaku emerged since none of them is a member of PDP.
According to the court, the decision of the Tribunal not to take into consideration the testimony of appellant witnesses that the PDP primary election was shifted to Abuja because of security situation was perverse. It therefore set the decision of the Tribunal aside.
“If the Tribunal decides that a candidate elected at an election was not validly nominated, it can nullify the victory, it should order for fresh election and not declare the petitioner the winner of the poll”.
The court therefore ruled that the Tribunal was wrong to have declared the APC candidate who scored the second highest number of votes the winner of the election.
The court said it was a gross misdirection for the Tribunal to declare the APC candidate winner of the election on the basis that he secured the second highest number of votes.
The Court allowed the Appeal and overturned the judgement of the Tribunal. The Court held that Ishaku was validly elected as Governor of Taraba State and his certificate of return remains valid.
In earlier rulings the five man panel dismissed arguments by the appellant, Ishaku that the Tribunal should not have accepted the statements of the witnesses because they were not properly signed. Thus, the appellant argued, the Tribunal should have struck out the petition.
The court held that the statements upon examination, were properly signed and stamped by the Secretary to the Tribunal who statutorily was the head of the registry of the Tribunal. The Appellate Court held that the petitioner fully complied with all statutory stipulations for filing of statement of witnesses and that the Tribunal was right to have accepted them.
The court also argued that it will amount to great injustice if the petitioner is held responsible for the mistake of the registry of the Tribunal.
Also, the court dismissed arguments by the appellant that the reliefs sought by the petitioner are incongruent. The appellant had argued that the petitioner cannot be claiming that the election was marred by malpractices and at the same time, asking to be declared winner of the election.