The Federal High Court in Jalingo Wednesday disqualified the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba State, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi, from contesting the polls on Saturday over alleged falsification of age.
The decision of the court followed a case instituted against Danladi, APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by Usman Udi, Joshua Paaku, George Geoffrey and Tanko Muslim Munkaila in suit number: FHC/JAL/CS/1/2019.
The plaintiffs are said to be APC members who are aggrieved over Danladi’s “dubious emergence” as the party’s candidate.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Imoukhuede Hope, Esq., via an originating summon, dated January 9, 2019, had sought a declaration that: “The information contained in the affidavit supporting the personal particulars that Sani Abubakar Danladi was born on the February 14, 1968 is in conflict with Sani Abubakar Danladi’s date of birth contained in his West African Senior School Certificate submitted to INEC by him which indicates that Sani Abubakar Danladi was born on 3rd April 1977”.
The litigants also sought another declaration that: “The information given by Sani Abubakar Danladi as to his age in the affidavit in support of his personal particulars in the INEC form CF001 submitted to INEC by him is false”.
Their lawyer further sought an order of the court to disqualify the Taraba APC flag bearer (Danladi) from contesting the March 9, 2019 governorship poll.
The Plaintiffs filed the suit pursuant to Section 31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act 2010 which provides in section 31(5) that: “Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the Federal High Court, High Court of a state or FCT against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.”
31(6): “If the Court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false, the Court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate from contesting the election”.
Upon being served with the originating summons, Danladi, through his legal counsel, Yakubu Maikasuwa, Esq. filed a counter affidavit and a preliminary objection on January 30 seeking to strike out the suit on grounds that it was “a pre-election matter.”
As the case was going on, Prof. Mohammed Sani Yahaya, a former Vice Chancellor of the Taraba State University who also contested the Taraba APC Governorship primaries, sought to join in the suit against Danladi.
Prof. Yahaya, through his lawyer, P.D. Pius, Esq., prayed the Court to declare him as the lawful candidate of APC in Taraba state to contest the governorship polls.
He argued that: “Danladi failed, neglected and/or refused to present legally valid and recognised evidence that he is educated up to school certificate level or its equivalent.
“There is no record of any candidate with the name of Abubakar Sani Danladi at Bachama Primary School in 1979/84.”
Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court, in his judgement yesterday upheld the submissions of the plaintiffs. He ordered that “Danladi is disqualified from contesting the March 9, governorship election.”
The state chairman of APC, Ibrahim Elsudi Tukur, said “the issue (of age falsification) had been taken to court in the year 2007 and was subsequently dismissed by the Appeal Court” and was not supposed to be admitted by a lower court again.
He said they will appeal the judgment.
The State INEC chairman, Baba Abba Yusuf, told reporters that the headquarters of INEC is expected to communicate to him on the judgment.