14th October, 2010
A 5-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Christopher Chukwuma-Eneh this morning in Abuja adjourned till 26 November to rule on an application brought before it by the candidate of Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, in the last governorship election held in Sokoto State in 2007, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi.
Dingyadi and his party have been challenging the outcome of the election which returned Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko as the governor of Sokoto State by virtue of section 187-91 of the Electoral Act 2006, that says any candidate to be fielded by any political party must be a registered member of such a party at least 60 days prior to the election.
Their arguement was that Wamakko was hitherto the All Nigeria Peoples Party governorship candidate before he was drafted to the People’s Democratic Party, barely two weeks to the 2007 election.
While the appeal was pending at the court, Dingyadi went to another Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto seeking to upturn the decision of the Sokoto State Electoral Tribunal which upheld the victory of Wamakko at the fresh polls.
With these multiplicity of appeals seeking same reliefs still pending before these courts, Dingyadi and DPP approached the Supreme Court to withdraw their appeal on the ground that they were no longer interested in continuing with the interlocutory appeal at the apex court in its pre-election matter of trying to nullify the candidacy of Wamakko. This was to clear the way for the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, to deliver its judgment on his electoral appeal.
Governor Wamakko, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the People’s Democratic Party who were parties in the case opposed the withdrawal application brought before the court by Dingyadi and insisted that the rules of the court which regulate the withdrawal of appeals at the apex court as outlined in Order 8 Rule 6 (2) and (4) must be applied. They also sought for the apex court to dismiss the appeal filed at the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal as a consequential order to their application for the withdrawal of the suit at the appeal court.
They contend that a principal condition for an appeal to be withdrawn is that all parties must consent to the withdrawal which is not the case in this instance and that there are still pending issues yet to be resolved between the parties which makes Dingyadi’s application to withdraw an ill timed one.
Mr. Yahaya Mahmud, Chief Wole Olanipekun and Dr. Alex Izinyon counsel for INEC, Wamakko and PDP respectively reiterated that there must be an end to litigation and that the DPP candidate should not be allowed to continue to abuse the court’s process with his multiple suits concerning same issues and same parties.
They urged the court to stay the delivery of the Sokoto Court of Appeal’s judgment which they say constitutes an abuse of the court’s process.
Dingyadi’s lawyer, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi relied on Order 8 Rule 6 (1) of the apex court rules to argue that it will be against the interest of public policy to refuse an appellant the right to withdraw an appeal simply on the refusal of the respondents to grant their assent.
He also told the court that it cannot assume jurisdiction over the Sokoto Court of Appeal which has the constitutional powers to adjudicate on governorship election petitions.