Five aspirants of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Borno on Thursday challenged the candidature of the Governor, Babagana Zulum, in a pre-election appeal filed before the Jos Court of Appeal.
Newsmen report that the Borno Federal High Court dismissed the suit challenging the nomination of Mr Zullum on the grounds that it was filed out of the 14 days grace stipulated by Section of 87 of the Electoral Act.
But the aspirants, Mustapha Baba-Shehuri, Kashim Imam, Mohammed Abba-Liman, Mohammed Kumalia and Baba Jatau-Mohammed, disagreed with the decision of the lower court and appealed against it at the appellate court.
The aspirants, through their counsel, Obuju Onojah, in an originating summon, asked the appellate court to upturn the judgement of the lower court and quash the candidature of the Governor-elect and direct the party to do the needful in accordance with the law.
Joined in the suit against the governor-elect, are the APC, INEC and Baba Ahmed-Jaddah.
Newsmen report that when the case came of hearing, Mr Onojah prayed the court to set aside the decision of the lower court and look at the merit of the case and give its judgement.
“The crux of our appeal is the failure of the lower court to recognise the issues raised in our suit before it and went ahead to dismiss the suit on the ground that it was filed outside the 14 grace contained in section 87 of the Electoral Act.
“We had first appealed to the APC’s Appeal Committee of our dissatisfaction with the September 30, 2018 Governorship primaries and the committee gave a verdict on October 17, 2018, which we were not satisfied with and thereby filed a suit before the lower court.
“Unfortunately, the lower court in its judgment dismissed the suit claiming that we were out of the 14 days grace even when the courting should have started from October 17, 2018, when the committee gave its verdict.
“We are praying your Lordships, to set aside that judgement of the lower court and critically look at the merit of the case and allow the appeal in the interest of justice,” Mr Onojah solicited.
Responding, Mr Yusuf Ali, counsel to the respondents, objected to the appeal, which he said has no substance having failed at the lower court for challenging the decision of the APC out of the 14-day-grace.
“Our objection is to let your lordships know that the court has no power over the decision of a political party.
“Besides, the suit filed before the lower court was filed out of the 14 days grace as the counting began on Sept. 30, 2018, when the party primaries were conducted.
“We are asking this honourable court to disregard this appeal and dismiss it for lack of merit,” Mr Ali argued.
Also speaking, Usman Tatama, the counsel to INEC, prayed the court to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that it lacked merit.
Justice U. Onyemenam led judges, after listening to the parties involved, reserved judgment in the appeal.
NAN reports this is the second appeal challenging the candidature of the Borno State Governor-elect, after that of Idris Mamman-Gatumbwa, which was also reserved for judgment.