The supreme court has dismissed the appeal of Aisha Alhassan, Taraba state governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) now minister of women affairs, challenging the judgment of the appeal court declaring Ishaku Darius as governor of the state.
The apex court dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit, but stated that it would give the reason for its decision on February 22. A J Owonikoko (SAN), counsel to Alhassan, had asked the court to allow the appeal of his client on the grounds that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not conduct a primary election to nominate Darius Ishaku, governor of the state, as a candidate in the election.
“It is not about how the primary election was held, but about whether any primary election took place,” he said. “We urge your lordships to allow the appeal and reverse the judgement of the appeal court.” I
n his own argument, Kanu Agabi, counsel to Ishaku, urged the court to dismiss the appeal, stating that it was not in dispute that the PDP sponsored his client.
He argued that Owonikoko, in his brief, identified Ishaku as duly sponsored by the PDP, hence “the appellant is bound by her own pleading”.
Alhassan had lost her bid to replace Ishaku as governor of the state at the appeal court. On December 31, the appeal court sitting in Abuja ruled that Alhassan had no locus standi – the right or capacity to appear in a court – to question the decision of the PDP to nominate Ishaku as its candidate in the April 11 governorship election.
The Abdul Aboki-led five-man panel ruled that the PDP fielded Ishaku and that he was accepted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with no complaints. INEC announced PDP’s Darius Ishaku as winner with 369,318 votes, defeating APC’s Alhassan who polled 275,984 at the ballot in April.
Although the appeal court had admitted the testimony of the INEC officer, who testified that the PDP primaries violated sections 85 and 87 of the electoral law, it held that the APC had no locus standi on the matter. Of the five issues raised by the appellant, two were in favour of the APC and another two of the PDP, while the last issue on declaring Alhassan automatic governor after the Taraba governorship election petition tribunal’s disqualification of Ishaku was overruled by the appeal court.
The election tribunal sitting in Abuja had declared on November 7 that Alhassan was as the duly elected governor, saying Ishaku did not emerge candidate of the PDP in a proper primary election. It ruled that Alhassan, also known as ‘Mama Taraba’, be sworn in as governor of Taraba state because she came second in the poll.
The tribunal had held that the governorship primary election conducted by the PDP in Taraba state violated section 78 (b) (1)(2) of the electoral act. It had also held that contrary to the provision of the section, the PDP conducted the primaries at its national secretariat in Abuja with no clear delegation from the local government areas in the state.