It was with shock that I received the Appeal Court ruling on Taraba State governorship election, and with justifiable reasons. Firstly, I saw the issue as clear and very straightforward because it is a well known fact that for a candidate to contest election in Nigeria, he or she must be sponsored by a political party and that the candidate must emerge through a properly conducted Primaries, which was not the case in this matter.
In Taraba, it was confirmed that the People’s Democratic Party, the platform upon which the governor, Darius Ishaku, contested the election, did not conduct Primary election. Since there is no place for independent candidature in the nation’ s constitution, it therefore means that Ishaku had no business taking part in the April governorship election.
And as the tribunal rightly pointed out, it means that all votes secured by him in the election do not count and are indeed wasted votes. So if we care about the rule of law at all, then the election of Governor Darius Ishaku cannot be sustained. He must be used as an example to other candidates and parties, who are fond of disregarding the law.
The nullification of the election will also help to entrench internal democracy, as it was due to the lack of it that the PDP failed to conduct Primaries. The argument that the primaries held in Abuja, does not hold water, as it has been proven that such exercise never took place. Secondly, I refer to the case of Uche Ekwunife of Anambra State, where the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) challenged the election on the basis that she did not emerge as candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) through a properly conducted Primaries.
In its ruling, the Appeal Court nullified Ekwunife’ s election to the Senate and went further to bar the PDP from taking part in the rerun, as it did not have a candidate. Why then would another Appeal Court argue that because Aisha Alhassan of the APC, is not a member of the PDP, she cannot challenge Ishaku ‘ s election on the basis that he did not emerge through a Primary election?
Is this a case of different judgments for similar cases; or different rulings for different individuals? I must also state clearly here that the Appeal Court ruling in the Taraba issue is also morally wrong. Is the court saying that certain people cannot report crimes? Should people look the other way if something illegal has been done because they are not directly involved?
I am strongly of the view that the law is far above technicalities as being cited in this matter, and therefore urge the Supreme Court to consider the dangers the Appeal Court ruling portends for the nation if allowed to stand.
I further urge the apex court to declare Hajia Aisha Alhassan of the APC the duly elected governor of the state, to serve as a detterent to other candidates and parties who may want to violate the law in the pusuit of political positions. We must note that whatever decision is taken now will determine the future.
By Jonas Kwasa. Jonas Kwasa wrote from Wukari