By Abdullahi Ahmad Bamalli
Aisha Dahiru-Ahmad the All Progressives Congress, APC’s candidate in the Adamawa governorship election, popularly known as “Binani,” on Wednesday dropped the lawsuit filed against the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
She had applied to the court for a judicial review of the decision by INEC to reverse her earlier announcement as winner of the poll by the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Hudu Yunusa-Ari.
Binani’s lawyer, Mohammed Sherif, said at the hearing that the notice of dismissal had been given to Abuja Federal High Court Judge Inyang Ekwo, and he asked the court to dismiss the case.
Justice Ekwo reminded Sheriff that an order was given in the last adjourned date directing him to address the court on whether the court had the jurisdiction to entertain the case or not.
The lawyer, who informed the court that a lot of issues had come up between the last date of adjournment and today, begged for an order striking out the suit.
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The judge, however, held that since the Sheriff had failed to go by the order of the court, the appropriate thing to do was to dismiss the matter.
“I hereby make an order dismissing this suit,” Justice Ekwo declared.
It was reported that the judge had, on April 18, refused to hear an ex-parte motion filed by Binani.
Ekwo, instead, ordered the APC candidate’s counsel to address the court on the issue of jurisdiction before hearing the substantive motion.
The judge said though he was ready to hear from the Sheriff, the lawyer must address the court on the issue of jurisdiction before he proceeded.
He held that the application would be taken together with the issue of jurisdiction on the next adjourned date and adjourned until April 26 for hearing.
But the electoral umpire had, on April 19, declared the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s candidate and Governor Ahmadu Fintiri the winner of the governorship election held in the state
Mrs Binani and APC, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/510/2023, had sued INEC, PDP and its candidate, Gov. Fintiri as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.
Mrs Binani, through her lawyer, Hussaini Zakariyau, SAN, had sought a judicial review of the administrative decision of INEC on April 16 in respect of her declaration as the winner of the governorship elections held on March 18 and the supplementary poll of April 15.
She is also seeking an order of prohibition and certiorari preventing INEC and its agents from taking any further steps towards the declaration of the winner of the elections pending the determination of her application for judicial review.
The application was brought pursuant to Order 34 Rules 1a, Order 3(1) & 3(2) a, b, c, Order 6 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rules), 2019 and Section 251 (1)q & r of the 1999 Constitution, as well as Section 149 & 152 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Giving grounds why the motion should be granted, Binani stated that after the collation of results, INEC declared her as the winner of the elections but the PDP and its candidate, Governor Fintiri, resorted to fighting and causing a public disturbance which led to the beating and manhandling of an INEC staff.
This crisis, she said, led INEC to cancel the initial declaration which it had no power to do as only the election petition tribunal is vested with such powers.
By cancelling her declaration, Mrs Binani contended that INEC usurped the powers of the election petition tribunal which is the only court vested with powers on a declaration from the conduct of an election.
In the application, she averred that a judicial review exists to enable the superior court to checkmate the actions and decisions of inferior courts as well as the legislative and administrative arm of government including agencies and public officers.
The applicant further submits that the INEC, being an agency of the government, can have its actions, records, and decisions checked by the court and only a court can nullify the actions of an INEC official and not the INEC itself.