By Akogu Yusuf
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed 28th September and 11th October 2021 respectively for further hearing and judgement on the allegations of certificates forgery case involving two Bwari residents, Hassan Gimba Zakari and Ibrahim Abdul seeking for the disqualification of the incumbent Chairman and candidate of PDP and his deputy as well as the candidate of APC, Audi Haruna Shekwolo.
The two plaintiffs wants the two candidates disqualified from contesting the February 2022 election on the ground that they were not validly nominated by their respective parties.
In an interview with journalists after the date was set for the ruling, counsel to the 1st and 2nd defendants, Barrister Gabriel Akpata said “we are challenging that action because the plaintiff is relying on section 31(5) of the electoral act saying that PDP Chairman and Vice Chairmanship candidate submitted false documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but we are making the plaintiff to understand that if the person is not an aspirant or a political party in an election, He or She doesn’t have a locus standing to challenge the standing of 1st and 2nd defendants in this case which is predicated on Section 285(14) of the constitution which define a pre election matter and the authority the plaintiff is siting has no relationship with pre-election matter.”
Barrister Pius Pius, cousel to APC candidate, Audi Haruna Shekwolo in his response said ” the matter has become clear to the plaintiff when he was told by the court that his first originating summon was dead. The 2nd one is the only one pending and it will also die like the first one in the next hearing.”
In a swift reaction, counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister George Ibrahim said “as you are aware, we are challenging the qualification of the 1st and 2nd defendants base on false information submitted to INEC who is the 4th defendant in the matter.”
Barrister George faulted the position of the 1st and 2nd defendants that only aspirants or Political Parties can sue candidates.
According to him “it is just a contentious to mislead the court, there’s no controversy or contradiction between section 285(14) of the constitution and section 31(5) of the electoral act. If you look at column D of affidavit in support of personal particulars, it is repeated verbatim what is provided by section 31 of the electoral act that anybody who fail to comply with that provision will be disqualified. There is nowhere in the constitution where you find such provision when it comes to election matter. The constitution is the grand norm upon which every laws derives it legitimacy.”
“It has provided for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Assembly in the wisdom have enacted this laws and that is why I cited to them the case of Dame Patience Jonathan vs FGN reported in the part 861 in the Nigeria weekly law report. When you want to talk about the constitution, it should be wholistic and not narrow interpretation.”
“We also know the case of PDP vs Remyon in Bayelsa state where a deputy governor elect was disqualified for submitting false information to INEC.”
“The latest authority on this matter was as recent as 16th April, 2021 when the supreme court in the PDP against Asomugwa Tony Elebeke affirmed the right of anybody who has knowledge that a candidate in an election has submitted to INEC false information to approach a Federal High Court or State High Court to ask for the disqualifications of the candidates and that is what we have done.”
“Even non lawyers should know that the latest authority take precedent. The authority the counsels to 1st and 2nd defendants are relying upon have no bearing on the interpretation of section 31(5) of the electoral act. The rational behind the enactment of section 31(5) of electoral act about anybody who has knowledge is because these people that are aspiring to political offices to become leaders shouldn’t have skeleton in their cupboard.”
How can you be a candidate in an election and your hands are soiled? What kind of leadership are we now expecting from you?
The matters has been adjourned to 28th September for further hearing and 11th October, 2021 for ruling respectively.