Monday, November 28, 2022

2023: Court sacks Bwacha as Taraba APC governorship candidate

Justice Obiora Egwuatu, who delivered the judgement, also ordered a fresh primary election to be conducted within 14 days.

• November 15, 2022
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has nullified the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election that produced Emmanuel Bwacha as its governorship candidate for the 2023 general election.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu, who delivered the judgement, declared that based on submissions made before him by the parties, the purported primary election conducted by APC on May 26 was a nullity.

The judge also ordered a fresh primary election to be conducted within 14 days.

The court had on October 6 fixed November 15 for judgement in a suit filed by Yusuf Yusuf seeking the nullification of the Taraba APC governorship primary held on May 26.

Mr Yusuf, a senator representing Taraba Central, who was also a governorship aspirant in the contested exercise, dragged Mr Bwacha, the purported winner, the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Ibrahim Bawa (SAN), told the court that his client’s case was that APC held no primary election in Taraba.

According to him, the APC announced that it would conduct direct primaries in only three states, and Taraba was not part of the three.

He added that even though the appeal panel was set up to hear complaints that no primaries were held, the defendants insisted that the report be reviewed.

“The purported review was not signed by members of the committee, this court is empowered to compare the signatures on documents before it.”

Mr Bawa also submitted that the Federal High Court in Taraba had nullified the election in a recent ruling on a similar matter and ordered a fresh election.

For his part, counsel to the APC, Festus Idepefo (SAN), told the court that he had provided evidence to counter the plaintiff’s submission that no primary election was held.

“The issue formulated by the plaintiff is that no election was conducted at all.

“In response to this allegation, we have exhibited the results of the elections in all the 168 wards in Taraba showing the number of registered voters.

“We have also exhibited the INEC report issued in each local government area of Taraba.

“In a situation like this, we expect the plaintiff to exhibit voters who were disenfranchised, but no such exhibit is before the court.”

Regarding a similar judgement by the court in Taraba, Mr Idebefo said the case in Taraba was different from the current one.

“The plaintiff in the Taraba case said that the notice given to him for the election was too short, so he did not have time to prepare for it.

“The plaintiff, in this case, is alleging that there was no election.”

The senior lawyer also argued that the allegation of no signature on the committee’s report amounted to forgery and falsification, a serious allegation of which the plaintiff must provide proof.

He said legal ambush could not obtain justice and urged the court to dismiss the case for lacking merit.

Counsel to Mr Bwacha, E.A Ibrahim, in his submission, told the court that he filed 459 exhibits on behalf of his client.

“The exhibits comprise result sheets for the various wards and local government areas,” he said, praying the court to dismiss the suit.

Meanwhile, N.T Abubakar, counsel to INEC, told the court that his client would abide by the decision taken by the court.

(NAN)

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