By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
June 23 is decision day at the Federal High Court, Abuja in the internal battle between Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and another All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in the 2015 general election, Senator Umaru Dahiru, over who ought to have been the party’s candidate in that election.
But watchers of Sokoto are ready to bet that whichever the decision swings, it promises to be a matter to be resolved at the Supreme Court.
Except, of course, if the elders prevail on the parties to pursue a resolution outside the courts.
A Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, is expected to deliver the verdict in the dispute that arose on the conduct of the primary election held on December 4, 2014.
Justice Kolawole fixed the date yesterday for judgment after taken final arguments from counsel involved in the legal tussle for the Sokoto State governorship seat.
Senator Dahiru had dragged the APC, Tambuwal and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the court praying for an order of the court to nullify and set aside the Sokoto state APC primary election on the grounds that its conduct was not in compliance with the Electoral Act 2010, the APC guideline on the primary election and the party’s constitution.
Arguing the originating summons on behalf of the plaintiff, Chief Roland Otaru SAN, urged Justice Kolawole to void and set aside the primary election that produced Tambuwal for the 2015 governorship election.
His ground was that the constitution of the APC, the APC guideline on the primary election and the Electoral Act 2010 were violently violated in the conduct of the election.
The counsel alleged that in breach of the rules, verification and accreditation of delegates were not done in spite of the fact that they were mandatory.
Otaru urged the court to take a judicial notice of the list containing the names of the delegates who participated at the purported primary and the report of the APC, adding that there was no evidence of verification and accreditation of delegates as required by relevant laws.
The SAN insisted that the purported primary that produced Tambuwal was a nullity having failed to comply with the APC guidelines and other relevant laws on primary election.
However, counsel to the APC, Jubrin Okutepa told Justice Kolawole to dismiss the case of the plaintiff on the grounds of inconsistency in his claims.
He drew the attention of the court to the affidavit evidence of the plaintiff prepared in 2015, where he admitted that accreditation of delegates was done and further affidavit of the same plaintiff prepared in 2017, where the plaintiff made a u-turn
He submitted that a litigant must be consistent in his claim.
The counsel said the plaintiff failed to call delegates to give evidence that they were not accredited, adding that in the face of the failure to do that the court should presumed in favor of proper accreditation.
“The case of the plaintiff is bereft of any evidential support to warrant any declaration to be made in his favor”, the laws said and urged the court to dismiss the case of the plaintiff and uphold the nominee.
In his own argument counsel to Tambuwal, Mr. Sunday Ibrahim Ameh SAN aligned himself with the submissions of the APC counsel, adding that it is too late in the day for the plaintiff who admitted in January 2015 that accreditation was done to make a U-turn in 2017 that no accreditation was done.
Besides, the counsel submitted that the period for primary election has expired in line with 1999 constitution as such the case of the plaintiff has become an academic
Counsel to INEC Alhassan Umar told the Court that INEC would be neutral and will abide the decision of the court.