Wednesday, March 22, 2023



MATTERS ARISING: What next for Taraba APC after supreme court sack of its guber candidate?

MATTERS ARISING: What next for Taraba APC after supreme court sack of its guber candidate?
February 04
12:55 2023

After the judgment of the supreme court sacking its candidate, one may wonder if the All Progressives Congress (APC) has lost its chance to contest the governorship seat in Taraba state.

Emmanuel Bwacha, senator representing Taraba south, was nominated as the governorship candidate of the APC after his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party in February 2022.

However, two of the six other aspirants — Yusuf Yusuf, senator representing Taraba central, and David Kente — instituted separate suits before a federal high court in Abuja and a federal high court in Jalingo, respectively, challenging Bwacha’s nomination.

Before the Jalingo federal high court, Kente had submitted that no primary was conducted. Simon Amobeda, the trial judge, agreed with the plaintiff and nullified Bwacha’s candidacy and also ordered that a fresh primary be conducted within 14 days.


The high court’s judgment, however, was set aside by the court of appeal in November 2022, causing Kente to go before the supreme court.

The supreme court in, its verdict delivered on Wednesday by a five-member panel, set aside the appellate court’s judgment and affirmed that of the trial court.

Consequently, what this means is that APC ought to conduct a fresh primary within 14 days.



Section 29 of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that party primaries must be held and names of duly nominated candidates submitted to INEC not later than 180 days before the date fixed for the general election.

Consequently, INEC had fixed June 9 as the deadline for the conduct of primaries.

Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act also mandates parties to issue at least 21 days’ notice to INEC before primaries.


In line with the above stated sections and the deadline fixed by INEC, any party primary done outside the allowed timeframe ought to be invalidated.

However, the conduct of party primaries gave rise to several disputes and a barrage of court cases.

In some of these cases such as that of Taraba APC, the court ordered that a fresh primary be conducted despite being outside the timeframe allowed by law.



Addressing the legality of the supreme court order, Festus Okoye, INEC’s national commissioner for information, said it is not the position of the electoral border to question the ruling of the apex court.

The supreme court is the apex court of the land. It does not stand in competition with any other court. The supreme court interprets the law and, in some instances, makes consequential orders,” he said.


“INEC is not a judicial institution. The judicial powers of the federation reside in the courts. The law is what the supreme court says it is.

“The remit of the commission is to organise, undertake, and supervise elections. The commission gives effect to the judgments of courts. Section 287 of the constitution is clear.


“As a public trust, we must give effect to the judgments and orders of court. The commission does not interpret court judgments and orders. We give effect to them.

“The supreme court has given the party the permission and the go-ahead to conduct fresh primaries within a period of 14 days. 


“Is the supreme court right? The commission will not interrogate the judgment or orders of the supreme court. Each case has its own peculiarities and nuances.

“The commission will look at the Taraba judgment relating to the APC primaries and give effect to the orders of the supreme court and no more.”

On his part, Felix Morka, national publicity secretary of the APC, said the party would give effect to the supreme court judgment.

“The party intends to conduct the supreme court-mandated rerun governorship primary election for Taraba state,” he said.

Meanwhile, governorship elections across states have been fixed for March 11.


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