On Saturday, the Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, sacked the Taraba state Governor, Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by nullifying the April 11 governorship elections in the state and declaring the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Mrs. Aisha Jummai Alhassan, the winner of the polls, thus, breaking a record in the process.
She may not be Nigeria’s first female governor as Virginia Ngozi Etiaba made sure she never wears that crown, but the Minister designate is indeed the first elected female governor in the country. That, no one can deny her.
Virginia Etiaba, a native of Nnewi North Local Government of Anambra State was the first female governor in Nigeria’s history when she became governor of the state for three months (November 2006 – February 2007). This was made possible by the impeachment of her boss, Governor Peter Obi by the state’s House of Assembly for alleged gross misconduct. However she handed back power three months later when an appeal court nullified the impeachment.
The rallying point in the judgement delivered by the three-member tribunal was that due process was not followed in the PDP primaries that produced Darius Ishaku as the party’s flag-bearer and as such, his emergence and subsequent election as governor was null and void. The party primaries was shifted to Abuja instead of being held in the state and also the candidacy of Ishaku was not sponsored by the PDP.
According to them, the primaries conducted by the PDP violated the Electoral Act which guides parties on how to legally conduct their primaries and as such the party did not have a candidate in the April 11 election in Taraba state in the eyes of the law..
Section 78 (b) (1)(2) of the Electoral Act states: In the case of nomination to the position of Governorship candidate, a political party shall where they intend to sponsor candidates:
(i) hold special congress in each of the Local Government Areas of the States with delegates voting for each of the aspirants at the congress to be held in designated centres on specified dates.
(ii) the aspirant with the highest number of vote at the end of the voting shall be declared the winner of the primaries of the party and aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the commission as the candidate of the party, for the particular state.
This is the first time the election of a governor will be nullified on the doctrine of wasted vote, according to Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, who described the judgment as a landmark. the APC counsel further added that the era of hijacking party primaries was gone and it would be a lesson not only for PDP but all political parties and that the governor or the party had 21 day to appeal after which, Mama Taraba will be sworn-in as governor.
Counsel to the PDP were not available to comment at the time of this report.