After almost four hearings in the court, plaintiffs’ counsels have alleged that the speaker’s lawyers have resorted to delay tactics in order to drag the case beyond reasonable time.They said that the speaker was yet to come up with one single defense adding that it appeared as if they actually did not have any.The first day the case (suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/11/2015) began over three weeks ago it suffered an adjournment at the instance of counsels to the second defendant (the speaker). The matter was therefore adjourned to Tuesday February 17 for the second hearing. Even at this hearing, counsels to the second defendant asked that the suit should start afresh since the originating summons served on the defendant came late into the proceedings.Justice Steven Chukwu Evoh, the trial judge adjourned the matter to February 23 to allow the counsels to the defendant prepare their defense. However, the counsels to the second defendant came seeking an order that the suit should be transferred to the Federal High Court Sokoto where the cause of action arose.At this stage, the counsel to Sen. Umaru Dahiru and another, Awa U. Kalu (SAN) and Associates urged the court to dismiss the request to transfer the case to the High Court, Sokoto Judicial Council.Awa U. Kalu (SAN) counsel to the plaintiffs submitted that since the defendant transacts business in Abuja (as the Speaker, House of Reps) and also lives in Abuja and since the plaintiff is also a serving senator who lives in Abuja and does business in Abuja, the hearing should go on in Abuja.The counsel to the plaintiff went on to say that since the defendant is not challenging the facts of the affidavit and other issues raised, it will be admitted as true.The presiding judge, Justice Steven Chukwu Evoh, ruled that the Federal High Court has jurisdiction all over Nigeria and so the hearing will continue in his court. He said since all parties in the matter carry out their businesses in Abuja - APC headquarters is in Abuja, the headquarters of INEC is in Abuja and the plaintiffs and second defendant reside in Abuja - the matter would continue in Abuja. So, the request for the matter to be transferred to Sokoto High Court was overruled.It would be recalled that the plaintiffs - Sen. Umaru Dahiru and Barr Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna - brought the case against the APC on one hand, Speaker House Representatives Aminu Tambuwal on another and the INEC. The court is being asked to determine whether the procedure for the nomination and/or sponsorship of candidates for the elective offices recognised by the Electoral Act 2010 and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is within the exclusive domain of Section 87 of the said Electoral Act.The court will go on to determine whether the conduct of the governorship primaries of the 1st defendant held on 4th December, 2014 was not grossly in non-compliance with the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010, the APC 2014 Guidelines for the nomination of candidates for public offices (APC 2014 Guidelines) and therefore unlawful, null and void. Whether in the circumstances of the case, the plaintiffs are not entitled to relief having exhausted internal party mechanism to redress the non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), APC 2014 Guidelines for the nomination of public offices and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).The court will have the task of determining whether it is lawful for the third defendant (INEC) to act on a candidate nominated by first defendant (APC) for the purpose of the general elections when such a candidate was elected in violation of the Electoral Act 2010, and the electoral guidelines established by the first defendant.The plaintiffs have gone on to make a declaration that it is unlawful for the third defendant to act on a candidate nominated by the first defendant for the purpose of the general elections when such a candidate was elected in violation of the Electoral Act 2010 and the electoral guidelines established by the first defendant.Equally, the plaintiffs are asking for an Order from the Court to direct the APC which in this case is the first defendant to withdraw the nomination and sponsorship of Aminu Tambuwal (the second defendant) as the gubernatorial flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress and to hold another governorship primaries in Sokoto State within such reasonable time as may be determined by the court.The plaintiffs also seeks an order of the court directing INEC (third defendant) to expunge the name of Aminu Tambuwal (second defendant) from its register of governorship candidates for the 2015 governorship elections pending fresh gubernatorial primaries in Sokoto State by the APC (first defendant).The plaintiffs are also asking for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining INEC (third defendant) from placing the name of the second defendant, Aminu Tambuwal, on the ballot for the 2015 governorship election pending the holding of gubernatorial primaries by APC.In an affidavit in support of motion of notice, the offices of Awa U. Kalu (SAN) and Associates who are legal practitioners to the plaintiffs made an oath and stated a number of factors necessitating the suit.Sen. Umaru Dahiru is seeking redress at the Federal High Court on grounds that despite the fact that the plaintiffs are bonafide card-carrying members of APC and despite obtaining the expression of interest forms respectively, APC breached its guidelines for the nomination of candidates for public office as well as the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).Amongst other acts of misconducts in the governorship primary election of December 4, 2014, the plaintiffs alleged that the officials of the Sokoto State government as well as officials of APC denied all other aspirants except Tambuwal access to the delegates.The plaintiffs are also claiming that not only was the screening of delegates on the day of the primaries not done between the stipulated hours of 8am and 12noon, the list of the delegates as issued by the National Secretariat of APC was not used in the conduct of the said election of December 4, 2014.Another ground on which Sen. Umaru Dahiru is seeking redress is that on the day of election, members of the Sokoto State and local government as well as members of the state assembly openly canvassed for votes for Tambuwal.Also that voting was not conducted in secret as stipulated in the guidelines of APC, instead, Aminu Tambuwal had his name written on ballot papers and those papers were freely distributed to delegates at the Ginginya Stadium, Sokoto, venue of the primary election. It turned out that both accredited delegates and even non-delegates were issued with already filled ballot papers with the name of Tambuwal, they claimed. The plaintiff also claimed that there were instances of delegates engaged in multiple voting to favour Tambuwal, and instead of a single ballot box as required for the election, 23 boxes were provided in order to perpetrate the claimed irregularities.It was alleged that voting was also done in a very rowdy scenario as five or more local governments were called at a time to cast their votes, this gave rise to a ‘free for all voting’ in favour of the second defendant.According to the plaintiffs, delegates were threatened with the loss of their seats in their respective capacities at ward, local government and state levels, should they vote for any other person than the second defendant.The claims by the plaintiffs listed ‘a’ to ‘t’ also included issues such as alleged refusal of the governorship election committee sent from the national headquarters of the APC to listen to complaints of the plaintiffs and agents before, during and after the primaries.
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