The Supreme Court has suspended its judgment on the Taraba State Governorship tussle between governor Darius Ishaku of the People Democratic Party, PDP, and Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan of the All Progressives Congress, APC, till 1:30pm today. A seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court headed by Justice Suleiman Galadima, this morning, stood-down the matter for judgment after it entertained arguments from all the parties on the appeal that was lodged by Alhassan and the APC. Alhassan who is currently the Minister of Women affairs, is praying the apex court to set aside the verdict of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which upheld the outcome of the April 11, 2015, governorship election that produced Governor Ishaku.
It will be recalled that the appellate court had on December 31, 2015, reversed the judgment of the Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which nullified Ishaku’s election. In voiding the decision of the tribunal, a five-man panel of Justices of the appellate court, held that Ishaku, validly won the governorship contest. It maintained that the Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar led tribunal, “grossly misdirected itself”, when it not only nullified governor Ishaku’s election, but went ahead to declare the APC candidate winner. Justice Abdul Aboki who read the lead judgment, said the tribunal acted outside its jurisdiction when it invalidated Ishaku’s election on the premise that he was not validly nominated by the PDP. The appellate court stressed that the issue of nomination of a candidate by a political party “is clearly a pre-election matter which no tribunal has the jurisdiction to entertain”. According to the court, neither the APC nor its candidate, Alhassan, had the requisite locus-standi to query the outcome of the PDP governorship primary election that produced Ishaku. It emphasised that under section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, only those that participated in the said PDP primary election, has the statutory right to challenge its outcome at the Federal High Court or State High Court. The appellate court said contention on whether the PDP rightly or wrongly conducted its governorship primary election, did not fall within matters that could be entertained by an election petition tribunal.