By Vivian Okejeme
The Court of Appeal, Abuja division, yesterday, affirmed the judgement of the Taraba State Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld the reelection of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9, 2019 governorship election.
On September 20, 2019, a three-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice M.O. Adewara, dismissed the petition by the APC and its candidate, Abubakar Danladi.
The Appeal court, in affirming the judgement of the tribunal, the five-man panel of the court held that the appellant had no candidate in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state.
According to the panel, this is by virtue of the disqualification of its candidate, Abubakar Danladi by the Jalingo division of the Federal High Court on March 6, 2019.
The tribunal had in an unanimous decision held that the petitioners failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
Further in its judgment, the tribunal held that even if the petition was to be considered on the merits, the petitioners failed to lead sufficient evidence to establish their claims that the governor was not validly elected by a majority of lawful votes.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, the All Progressive Congress, without its candidate, Danladi, approached the Court of Appeal marked CA/A/EPT/934/2019, on October 3, 2019, in petition No: EPT/TR/GOV/01/2019, for an order setting aside the decision of the tribunal.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in its argument filed by its counsel, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) noted that the appeal by the APC did not include the name of its candidate, Danladi as a person who would be directly affected by the outcome of the appeal.
Akume submitted that a party to a suit is not allowed to unilaterally alter a case as constituted from the trial court and that names of parties must be maintained on appeal except as may be ordered by the court.
It maintained that the appeal is frivolous and unmeritorious, thereby urged the appellate court to dismiss it with punitive cost.
Akuma specifically drew the attention of the Court of Appeal to its decision wherein it held thus: “It is now trite law that an appellant or a party seeking to appeal as an interested party cannot rearrange or reconstitute the parties to an action as constituted in the lower court at appellate court. The parties on record at the lower court must be retained at appellate level…the structure of the parties cannot by unilaterally changed or amended by any of the parties to an appeal.”