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’Only Aspirants In Party Primaries Can Challenge Its Outcome’

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On 11 February 2016, your lordships heard and dismissed this appeal for reasons to be given on 22 February 2016. These are the reasons that led me to that conclusion. The Facts Are These On 11 and 25 April 2015 the 3rd respondent, the regulatory body charged with the conduct of elections in Nigeria conducted election for the office of Governor of Taraba State. There were 11 candidates at that election. The 1st appellant, sponsored by the 2nd appellant, and the 1st respondent sponsored by the 2nd respondent were candidates at the election. The 1st respondent was declared the winner of the election with a score of 369,318 votes, while the 1st appellant came second with 275,984 votes. The 1st appellant and her party, the 2nd appellant, were not satisfied with the outcome of the election, and so they filed a petition. The other candidates were satisfied with the outcome of the election.

The Grounds of the Petition are: (a) That the 1st respondent was at the time of the election, not qualified to contest for the Office of Governor of Taraba State, having not been sponsored by a political party, a condition precedent prescribed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 (as amended) (b) That the election and return of 1st respondent was invalid by reason of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Approved Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of 2015 General Elections and Manual for Election Officials 2015 which non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election. (c) That the election and return of 1st respondent was invalid by reason of corrupt practices which vitiated the election. (d) That contrary to result declared by 3rd respondent, the 1st petitioner indeed won majority of lawful votes cast and satisfied the mandatory constitutional threshold and spread across the local government areas of Taraba State and ought to have been declared winner and returned as the duly elected Governor of Taraba State at the 11 April and 25 April 2015 election.

The petitioners prayed for the following: 1. That it may be determined that the 1st respondent was at the time of the election having failed to meet the constitutional requirement of being sponsored by a political party. 2. That it may be determined that the return of the 1st respondent as the Governor of Taraba State in the election held on 11 and 25 April, 2015 is void for corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). 3. That it may be determined that the 1st respondent was not duly elected or returned in the pulling units complained of in Ardo-Kola, Bali, Donga, Ibbi, Jalingo, Karim Lamido, Kurme, Lau Takum, Ussa, Wukari, Yorro and Zing Local Governments of Taraba State by majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held on 11 and 25 April, 2015. 4.

That it may be determined that the 1st petitioner scored the majority of lawful votes cast in the election held on 11 and 25 April, 2015 and satisfied the constitutional requirement and is entitled to be returned by the 3rd respondent as having been duly elected Governor of Taraba State in the election held on 11 and 25 April, 2015. The petitioners ask for the following reliefs: 1. AN ORDER that the 1st petitioner be issued forthwith with a certificate of return as the duly elected Governor of Taraba State, pursuant to the election held on 11 and 25 April, 2015. 2. In the alternative to (3) and (4) above, that it may be determined that the elections in the polling units and wards in Ardo-Kola, Bali, Donga, Ibbi, Jalingo, Karim, Lamido, Kurme, Lau Takum, Ussa, Wukari, Yorro and Zing Local Governments of Taraba State characterised by electoral irregularities and non-compliance (i.e. over-voting) in the governorship election held on 11 and 25 April, 2015 are invalid and that fresh elections be held in the said local government areas, amongst the contestant who participated in the original election, and that result of the fresh election in the affected local government areas be added to the scores of the respective candidates to determine and declare the eventual winner of majority of lawful and valid votes cast amongst the same contestants who stood nominated and entitled to contest the said election on 11 and 25 April, 201

The respondents responded with their replies urging the court to dismiss the entire petition.

Court’s Decision

After examining the sad state of the appellants’ pleadings where they admitted that the 1st respondent was indeed sponsored by the 2nd respondent the appellants’ filed woefully to show that any of the provisions of Section 177 of the Constitution applies to the 1st respondent. After an examination of decided authorities it is so clear that party primaries are the domestic affair of the political party which no outsider can complain about. Only aspirants at the primaries can complain about the conduct of party primaries. Furthermore an election tribunal has no jurisdiction to comment or examine how party primaries were conducted. Jurisdiction for such an exercise resides with Federal High Court, High Court of a State, or FCT High Court and only at the instance of a dissatisfied aspirant at the primaries.

Finally nomination, sponsorship of candidates by a party are pre-election matters that should be heard before petition is heard in an Election Tribunal. In conclusion a brief summary of the reasons why this appeal fails would suffice at this stage. 1. Appellants’ pleadings were against their own case rather than in favour of their case. 2. Evidence of PW2 & Exhibit 5 in favour of the appellants’ to show that the 2nd respondent did not conduct primaries is at variance with appellants’ pleadings and so worthless. 3. It is only a person who participated in his party primaries that has locus standi to complain about how the primaries were conducted. The 1st appellant not being a member of the PDP (2nd respondent) has no locus standi to say that the 1st respondent was not sponsored by the 2nd respondent. 4. The 1st appellant in paragraph 74 (6) of her petition called for fresh election, and that the 1st respondent should participate. How may I ask can a person the Appellant’ says was not sponsored by his party participate in afresh election? This appeal has no redeeming features. It lacks substance and it ought to fail. It is accordingly dismissed. Parties to bear their costs.

Representation A.J. Owonikoko, SAN with him, M.A. Magaji, SAN, J.N. Egwuonwu, M.I. Shaba, A. Zukogi (Miss), C.K. Udeoyibo, E. Okoi, A.D. Hussan, A.Y. Maidalailu, A. Olawole, H.M. Tukui, M. Yahaya, E.O. Abang, N.O. Salifu, A.I. Olawoye, N. Aje (Miss). R.P. Latu (Miss), B.O. Odigie (Miss), B.C. Babatunde (Mrs), N.A. Bandawa, A.C. Ebuzeme (Miss), J. Agbaduh (Miss), J.S.P. Dada & M.M. Grema (Mrs) – For Appellant AND Kanu G. Agabi, SAN with him, O. N. Ejut, SAN, J.S. Okutepa, SAN, N. Elijah, A. Aakm, J. Ochogwu, U. Njoku, A. Onah, M. Agada (Mrs), L. Akwaji, P. Igajah. P. Erivwode. Y. Ogbonna, K. Wilkey, E. Usungurua, E. Etim (Miss), O. Obeten, A. Osaghae (Miss), C. Odoemene (Miss), D. Oluohu, W.C. Daniel, A. Afolarin, H. Okeke, A. Odule, E. Tutlu, E Ebong (Miss), S.Q. Agbor, C. Ayodele (Mrs), B. Ude, N. Medani, O. Ogbenyealu (Mrs), L. Nwoye, O. Apeh, F. Balogun, O. Ihenkanandu (Miss), O. Okoye (Miss), M. Philip (Mrs), M. Idam, O. Arowosebe, A. Igbo, P. Okpa, A. Pascal (Mrs), A. Ukaga (Miss), J. Jideobi, L. Yusuf (Miss), I. Namiji (Miss), E. Chijioke (Miss), O. Ekonknow (Miss), C. Okorie, A. Alim (Miss), P. Arua (Miss), T. Olubayo (Miss), M. Ogobuchi, O. Achem, G. Ejesieme (Miss), B. Ameh (Miss), C. Ozuzu (Miss), B. Ogar, N. Odule (Mrs), Mary Francis Orji (Miss), N. Ezidi. – for 1st Respondent. Chief S. U. Akuma, SAN with him, M.I. Siman, G.E. Ukaegbu, E.A. Effiong, A. Maisamari, T.T. Chahiur, M.B. Ahmad. E.N. Ukaegbu, D.G. Tukura, U. Akingnade (Mrs), M.C. Nwoye, T. T. Sekibo, D. Mbila (Miss). – for 2nd Respondent J.B. Daudu, SAN with him, A.J. Akanmode, J.O. Makinde, E.N. Chia, J.A. Oguche, H.M. Usman (Mrs), P.B. Daudu, S. Stephen, F. Al-Mustapha (Miss), O.J. Wada, I.C. Okonji, A. Abu, H.M. Ibega, S.O. Sanni (Miss), K. Fatai-Oso. – for 3rd Respondent



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