The Supreme Court Friday declined to remove Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal from office.
Instead, the apex court ruled that a case filed by Senator Umaru Dahiru challenging the nomination of Tambuwal as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the April 2015 governorship election be retried at the Federal High Court.
Dahiru contested for the governorship election in the December 2014 primaries of the APC, but lost to Tambuwal, who eventually went on to win the gubernatorial poll conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in April 2015 and was subsequently sworn-in as Governor on May 29 of the same year.
Friday’s ruling followed an earlier judgement given by the Supreme Court in June this year which dismissed application by the Sokoto State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s governorship candidate, Senator Abdallah Wali, to be joined as parties to Dahiru’s suit.
In a judgement written by Hon Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammed JSC and read by Hon Justice CC Nweze JSC, the court held that rather than consider the case as mere academic exercise, the High Court should retry the case on its merit.
Counsel to Tambuwal, Paul M. Kassim Esq, who led six other lawyers, said the defence are are satisfied with the ruling and will get set for trial at the Federal High Court.
“Our position remains unchanged, that our client was validly nominated by the APC and was duly elected Governor by the good people of Sokoto State,” he told reporters after the judgement.
In the June ruling by now retired Justice Sulaiman Galadima JSC, the Supreme Court held that PDP and Wali lacked the locus standi to apply to be joined in the suit, describing the two as interlopers who should not take part in a matter purely involving another party.
Even though Sokoto PDP had announced that they will not challenge the election of Tambuwal in 2015, they however, through case number SC/67/2016, sought to be joined as parties in Dahiru’s suit on the grounds that if it succeeds, Wali should be declared winner of the election.
In a notice of motion for joinder filed at the apex court by EK Ashiekaa SAN, Wali and PDP contended that having participated in the 2015 governorship election, and having scored the next highest number of votes cast after that of Tambuwal, they have sufficient grounds to be joined in the case.
They said the reliefs sought by Dahiru would have an effect on the outcome of the Sokoto governorship election by creating a vacuum.
“That the vacuum likely to be created by the success of the Appellants appeal can only be filled by the applicant who scored the next highest returned votes,” they argued.
Justice Galadima however struck out the application, foreclosing any move by the PDP to get APC removed from power in Sokoto through the back door.
No date yet has been set for hearing on the interlocutory appeal filed by Senator Umar Dahiru challenging the ruling of the Appeal Court which held that his case at the Federal High Court against Tambuwal’s emergence as APC candidate for the April 2015 governorship election could not proceed since it has been overtaken by events and will be a mere academic exercise if it proceeds.