The High Court in Abuja, Nigeria has thrown out a lawsuit filed by Aisha Dahiru-Ahmed, who ran as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the Adamawa governorship election. Dahiru-Ahmed, popularly known as Binani, sought a judicial review of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) decision to overturn her initial announcement as the election’s winner by the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Hudu Yunusa-Ari.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Dahiru-Ahmed’s lawyer, Mohammed Sheriff, informed the court about the notice of discontinuance filed by the plaintiff and requested that the court strike out the case. However, Justice Inyang Ekwo reminded Sheriff that on the last adjourned date, an order was given directing him to address the court on whether it had the jurisdiction to hear the case. The lawyer pleaded with the judge to strike out the case, citing numerous issues that had arisen since the last hearing.
However, the judge held that as the lawyer had failed to comply with the court’s order, the appropriate thing to do was to dismiss the case. Justice Ekwo declared, “I hereby make an order dismissing this suit.”
On April 18, the judge declined to hear an ex-parte motion filed by Binani and instead ordered her counsel to address the court on the issue of jurisdiction before hearing the substantive motion. He emphasised that the application would be taken together with the issue of jurisdiction on the next adjourned date and adjourned the hearing until April 26.
Meanwhile, on April 19, INEC declared the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, as the winner of the Adamawa governorship election. In the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/510/2023, Binani and the APC had sued INEC, PDP and its candidate, Gov. Fintiri as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.
Binani, through her lawyer, Hussaini Zakariyau, SAN, had sought a judicial review of INEC’s administrative decision on April 16 to revoke her declaration as the winner of the governorship elections held on March 18 and the supplementary poll on April 15. She also sought 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 until the court determined 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, Section 251 (1)q & r of the 1999 Constitution, as well as Section 149 & 152 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Binani argued that after the collation of results, INEC had declared her the winner of the election. However, the PDP and its candidate, Governor Fintiri, caused a public disturbance and resorted to fighting, leading to the beating and manhandling of an INEC staff. This crisis led INEC to cancel the initial declaration, which Binani contended it had no power to do, as only the election petition tribunal has the authority to make such decisions.
Binani contended that INEC had usurped the powers of the election petition tribunal by cancelling her declaration, as it is the only court with powers to make such decisions. She argued that judicial review exists to enable superior courts to check the actions and decisions of inferior courts, as well as the legislative and administrative arms of government, including agencies and public
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