The Election Petition Tribunal in Taraba State yesterday sacked Governor Darius Ishaku, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the April 11 gubernatorial poll, from office.
The tribunal, which sat at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment by a three-man panel of judges, yesterday, declared Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the poll.
In its judgment, the Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar-led tribunal said it was satisfied that Ishaku was not validly nominated by the PDP to contest the election.
The tribunal maintained that there was overwhelming evidence that the PDP in Taraba sidelined the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, and the 1999 Constitution, as amended, when it decided to hold the primary election that produced Ishaku as its candidate in Abuja instead of Jalingo, the state capital.
It held that the purported nomination of the governor for the election, without a valid primary election monitored by INEC, was in breach of Sections 85, 87 and 138(1) of the Electoral Act 2010, as well as Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The tribunal stressed that the governorship primary election the PDP held at its National Headquarters in Abuja, on December 11, 2014, was not known to the law and was, therefore, invalid. Besides, the panel held that the PDP failed to give cogent and verifiable reason why it decided to hold the said primary election in Abuja without the consent of INEC.
According to the tribunal, it is a fundamental law in Nigeria that a candidate for an elective position must be duly nominated and sponsored by a registered political party before the candidature of such person could be deemed to be legally valid.
It said that the proof of evidence, adduced before it by all the parties, showed that the PDP did not conduct a valid primary election that could have led to the emergence of anybody as its sponsored candidate for the governorship contest.
The tribunal also noted that INEC confirmed that it was not part of the primary election that produced Ishaku as the PDP candidate, saying Section 85 of the Electoral Act made it mandatory that PDP must give the electoral body 21 days notice before it could hold a convention or primary to nominate its governorship candidate.
Consequently, the tribunal held that, in view of the fact that Ishaku was not sponsored by any known registered political party in Nigeria, he could not lay claim to votes cast for any political party at the April 11 election nor could he claim that he took part in the poll as an independent candidate.
Declaring all the votes Ishaku secured at the election as invalid, the tribunal, ordered that the APC candidate, Alhassan, having scored the second highest votes at the poll, be sworn-in as the winner of the governorship election in Taraba State.
It directed INEC to immediately withdraw the certificate of return it issued to Ishaku and issue a fresh one to Alhassan.
The tribunal said it was not unaware of the portion of the law that forbade it from directing the governor to vacate his seat. However, it said that, in the instant case, it had the power to remove the PDP governor on the grounds of his non-qualification to participate in the poll.
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate