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  COURT FIXES DATE FOR RULING ON JURISDICTION IN NIGERIA ELECTION CASE


West Africa’s regional court, the ECOWAS Court has fixed 20th March 2017 to rule on the preliminary objection raised by the Federal Republic of Nigeria questioning its jurisdiction to entertain a case brought by some voters contesting the propriety of the process for the election of the governor of one of the country’s 36 states.


Honorable Sule Audu and six others are in suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/02/16 challenging the decision of the country’s Independent National Election Commission to declare the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) the winner of the gubernatorial election in the state based on the 5th December 2016 supplementary election which were conducted in areas where ‘discrepancies’ were noticed in the previous election of 21st November 2016.


The plaintiffs contend that since the candidate did not participate in 21st November 2016 election but emerged following the death of the ruling party’s candidate before the supplementary election, the decision of the electoral commission to declare the replacement candidate victorious by integrating the votes cast for the late candidate was irregular.


‘The emergence of the said Yahaya Bello falls short of the minimum standard of free, fair, transparent, genuine and credible elections which would be the sine qua non for the popular participation of the people in the affairs of governance,’ the plaintiffs said in their initiating application.


Furthermore, they claimed that the winner never campaigned for the election nor present his manifesto for the purpose of accountability but was only nominated by the party and should have been deemed to have won only in areas where the supplementary elections were held.


Hon Audu, the son of the late candidate of the ruling party, said that the decision to ‘transfer’ the votes won by the late father in the November election to the replacement candidate was a violation of the plaintiffs fundamental rights as they were cast for the candidate and not the party.


Among the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are an order compelling the defendants to take constitutional, legal and other necessary measures to ‘redress the aberrations and fundamental rights violations flowing from the governorship election.’