By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Counsel to the plaintiff in the ongoing Kebbi State pre-election matter brought before a Federal High Court Abuja division, Anthony I. Ani (SAN) has said that his client Mr. Anthony Itanyi has right to institute the matter “just like anybody” in line with electoral act.
Mr. Ani stated this while countering claims by the first defendant’s (Gov. Abubarka Atiku Bagudu) lawyer Yakubu Maikiyau (SAN) that the plaintiff has no right of action in the matter, noting that right of action is created in Section 131 (1) paragraph 8 of electoral act.
According to him “Information given by the first defendant (Gov. Abubarka Atiku Bagudu) in Form CF001 submitted to third defendant (Independent National Electoral Commission) is false.”
He further argued that contrary to the claim by the defence counsel that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Bagudu’s name was not mentioned in the document presented in the court by the plaintiff, Mr. Ani stated that Gov. Bagudu’s name was not only mentioned 77 times but as a signatory to the account and also a principal associate of the companies that allegedly laundered money for the late Head of State, Gen Sani Abacha.
The matter had earlier been adjourned for the continuation of the hearing to today, Wednesday.
It would be recalled that the plaintiff in the matter Mr. Anthony Itanyi is claiming that Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) committed perjury by lying under oath in the form he submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) prior to 2015 governorship election in Kebbi State.
He urged the court to invalidate the election that brought Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu to power and confirm Major General Bello Yaki (Rtd), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate in the election as the winner, and subsequently order INEC to issue him certificate of return.
The plaintiff reliefs are “An Order declaring as wasted all the votes garnered or purportedly by 1st Defendant, Alh. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, at the gubernatorial election in Kebbi State held on 11th April 2015.”
“An order declaring the third Plaintiff herein Gen. Bello Sarkin Yaki (Rtd), who came second in the said gubernatorial election in Kebbi State held on 11th April 2015, as the actual winner of the election.
“An order cancelling as null and void the Certificate of Return issued to the 1st Defendant by the 3rd Defendant.
“An order directing the 3rd Defendant (INEC) to issue fresh Certificate of Return to the 3rd Plaintiff herein as the elected Governor of Kebbi State.
“An order directing the Chief Judge of Kebbi State or other appropriate Officer under the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to forthwith swear in the 3rd Plaintiff herein, General Bello Sarkin Yaki (Rtd), as the Governor of Kebbi State.”
Consequently, Governor Bagudu filed preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of Federal High Court to entertain the matter.
The matter was appealed to Supreme Court, the apex court later ruled that not only that the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to hear the case but also ordered for an accelerated hearing on the matter.