The application for an order of court to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from invalidating the declaration of Senator Aisha ‘Binani’ Dahiru, as winner of the governorship election in Adamawa State could not be granted as Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja temporarily declined to hear the application.
Inspite of the controversy over the usurpation of the power of the collation officer by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa to declare Binani winner when callation was still ongoing, the embattled APC candidate had on Monday approached the court for leave to file an application for judicial review of the administrative decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made on April 16th.
Her application which was in respect of her declaration as winner of the governorship elections of Adamawa State held on March 18 and the supplementary elections of April 15.
The prayer for leave to bring the application for judicial review was contained in an exparte application filed on April 17, 2023.
However, when the matter was called, Justice Ekwo told the counsel for Binani, Mr Mohammed Sherif to first address the court on issues of jurisdiction.
According to the court, Binani is to file her address on whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the application within three days.
Although, one Afeez Matonmi had announced appearance for Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the court however declined to hear him on the grounds that he has not been served with court processes on the matter.
Binani alongside her party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) are in the application seeking for an order of Prohibition and Certiorari preventing the electoral umpire 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.
Sued with the Commission are the PDP and its governorship candidate, Ahmadu Fintiri listed as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
The application which 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.
In the grounds upon which the application was brought, the senator argued that “the only court with power on a declaration made from the conduct of an election is only the Election petition Tribunal set up by the 1999 Constitution”.
According to her, after the completion of vote in the supplementary governorship election of April 15, and the subsequent collation of same results, INEC “declared her as the winner of the gubernatorial election and was thereby returned as elected.
The applicants said pursuant to the declaration any dissatisfied candidate is to resort to the tribunal for redress if any.
She faulted the cancellation of her declaration on April 16 based on some crisis caused by the PDP and its candidate Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, stressing that INEC “has no powers to cancel or declare the declaration as been made as null and void”.
“INEC after the declaration of Senator Aisha Dahiru Ahmed as the winner usurped the powers of the Election Petition Tribunal and declare the declaration null and void.
“The 1st respondent does not have the requisite powers to declare an election in which the winner has been declared null and void”.
The applicant further submits that 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 INEC itself.