Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, yesterday, affirmed the judgment of the Taraba State Governorship Election Tribunal which upheld the re-election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The five-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice C. N. Uwa held that the All Progressive Congress (APC) had no candidate in the March 9, election given the disqualification of it’s candidate, Abubakar Danladi by the Jalingo division of the Federal High Court on March 6, 2019.
Before the judgment, the appellant court dismissed all preliminary objections filed by the three respondents against the appeal for lacking in merit.
Prior to the appellate court judgment, a three-man panel of the State Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice M.O. Adewara in a unanimous judgment on September 20, dismissed the petition by the APC and it’s candidate, Abubakar Danladi on the grounds that they failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The appellant court, yesterday, noted that that having failed to overturn the order of the Federal High Court that disqualified the APC candidate both Appeal and Supreme Courts, Danlandi had withdrewn his participation at the tribunal.
“The first petitioner having withdrawn from the tribunal by virtue of his disqualification, the three reliefs he sought were no longer grantable as they stand abandoned by his withdrawal.
“The judgment of the Federal High Court having not been upturned took effect on March 6, and it is erroneous to hold that the disqualification took effect in July. A disqualified candidate cannot be said to have participated in an election. Section 141 of the Electoral Act prohibits the court from declaring a party a winner of an election in which he has not fully participated.”
On the issue of substitution of Danlandi with his deputy, the court held that “a disqualified candidate cannot be substituted long after an election. A disqualified party in an election has no candidate and cannot claim votes cast as the votes all amounted to wasted votes.
“By section 285 (13) of the 1999 constitution, a deputy candidate cannot be substituted for a principal candidate. The proposed deputy governor was only a nominee of the principal candidate after the primary election. The deputy governor sinks and sunk with the disqualified candidate.
“Substitution is not allowed were there is an incompetent candidate. When the nomination of a party is invalid, the party has no candidate.
“The law does not allow a political party to challenge an election which it did not participate,” said Justice Uwa.
The court also held that the appellant failed to prove allegations of over-voting by not tendering relevant electoral documents including voters registrar, statement of results, among others, to demonstrate and prove the alleged over-voting.
“Rather than tendering voters registrar and other relevant documents, the appellant relied on Smart Card Readers at the tribunal.
“I agree with the counsel to the 2nd respondent, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN), that no evidence was led to show were over-voting occurred. The appellant failed completely in proving over-voting.
“I hold that the appellant has no candidate in the March 9 governorship election in Taraba since it did not sponsor a competent candidate.”