The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Taraba State, Senator Aisha Alhassan, popularly called ‘Mama Taraba’, has vowed to challenge the appeal court judgment, which nullified the victory awarded her by the election petition tribunal in the state.
The counsel to Mrs. Alhassan, Mahmud Magaji, stated this while briefing journalists after the ruling in Abuja, Thursday.
It would be recalled that a five-man panel of judges, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, had described as “unattainable”, the decision of the Taraba state governorship election tribunal to declare Mrs. Alhassan winner of the April 11 governorship election in the state.
Mr. Aboki, who noted that the grounds on which the tribunal nullified the election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was a pre-election matter, held that it erred in declaring the candidate with the second highest number of valid votes, in this case Sen. Alhassan, winner of the election.
The appellate court said the constitution was clear on the grounds for declaration of a candidate as unqualified to stand for election – unless a candidate has been indicted by a court of law, or is known to have a criminal record, or has certain degree of health condition, among others – all of which did not apply to Ishaku.
Justice Aboki also berated the APC for crying more than the bereaved – the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which did not complain about the candidature of the PDP flag bearer.
“It is therefore a gross misdirection in law on the part of the trial tribunal to declare the first petitioner as the winner of the election of April 2015 for emerging with the second highest votes”.
“The decision of the tribunal is hereby set aside”, Aboki ruled Thursday.
Reacting to the judgment, Alhassan, who is presently Minister of Women Affairs, through her legal counsel, insisted that Ishaku was not validly sponsored by the PDP as its candidate for the polls as required by Section 177 of the constitution.
“It gives room for us to test the judgment so that we can expand the jurisprudence of the electoral process”, Mr. Magaji said.
“Their lordships have gone through our various speeches and have come up with their own ruling and we feel that we have the right to proceed to the Supreme Court”, he added.
Reacting to the comments by Mr. Magaji, the counsel to Mr. Ishaku, Kanu Agabi, said his client would not undermine the right of the APC and its candidate to approach the Supreme Court.
“The right of appeal is what brought us here and the right of appeal is still what will take them to the Supreme Court, so I cannot underestimate the value of their appeal”, he said.