In December 2014, the immediate past Minister of state for Niger Delta, Darius Ishaku was nominated by the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) against the wishes of the Taraba State PDP.
To make matters worse, the over 400 state delegates were asked to go to Abuja instead of Jalingo for the conduct of the primaries, contrary to the electoral act provision.
The candidates waited for hours and till daybreak only to be told that a consensus candidate has been chosen in the person of Ishaku. None of the delegates participated in the primaries. That was the beginning of the problem for PDP.
The ruling today in my opinion may not be faulted for the reason that since the PDP failed to nominate a candidate for the April 2015 Guber election according to the provision of the Electoral Act 2010, it will be assumed in the eyes of the law that they did not participate in the election.
The tribunal therefore naturally handed over victory to the candidate who scored the second highest votes counted; the APC candidate.
I have read some analysts comparing this Judgment with that of Amaechi Vs Omehia. That is an entirely different scenario. In 2007, the Rivers PDP conducted primaries for their governorship candidates where Amaechi emerged the winner.
However due to the allegations of corruption against Amaechi, the party quickly substituted Omehia as their candidate at the 11th hour. He won the elections and was sworn in. Amaechi went to court and won. In this case, PDP had a validly elected candidate, unlike the case with Taraba.
However the tribunal judgment raises certain questions;
1. Does it not amount to an usurpation of the people’s will to announce as winner, someone that the majority didn’t vote for?
2. Couldn’t the tribunal have just cancelled the election and ordered for fresh polls since PDP is being excluded against their will?
3. What is the rationale in moving these election petition tribunals to Abuja?
PDP can actually go to court challenging today’s ruling in Taraba. They can argue that the elections should have been declared inconclusive or cancelled outrightly since their logo appeared on the ballot and they were voted for. They may also argue that declaring the APC candidate winner means over 300,000 Taraba voters have been disenfranchised.
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