It was yet another confusion in political history of Nigeria in the present dispensation as Appeal Court, Abuja ordered fresh conduct of elections in polling units located in Taraba in an appellate judgment on Igabi Federal Constituency of Kaduna State.
The lead judgement delivered by Ibrahim Wakili, Justice of Court of Appeal on Thursday 3 November 2023, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent granted the prayers of the appellant Zayyad Ibrahim, candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in February 25 House of Assembly election of Igabi federal constituency by voiding and upturning the electoral victory of flag bearer of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Jallo Hussaini Muhammad.
Other two Judges of court of Appeal, Justices Samuel Ademola Bola and Aseimo Abraham agreed and endorsed the verdict of the lead Judge of ordering rerun in areas outside jurisdiction of the appeal.
Igabi, the local government at the center of the controversial judgement is located in Kaduna state with a federal legislator.
General election was conducted on 25 February for the seat of a member representing the constituency in the House of Reps.
Candidate of PDP in the election Jallo Hussain was consequently announced winner of the exercise, an announcement that triggered legal tussle from tribunal up to appeal court.
Aggrieved candidate of APC Ibrahim Zayyad thereafter ran to election tribunal where his case suffered a set back.
Not satisfied with the verdict of the first and initial juries, Ibrahim of APC went up to Court of Appeal in Abuja where his grouses against the election were heard and prayers granted.
Among the issues he listed which, according to him went contrary to Electoral Acts 2023 were; over-voting, violence, miscalculation, misappropriation and manipulation of results, discrepancies between ballot papers issued and total votes cast, non-stamping, non-signing and not dating of INEC forms among other irregularities presented by the appellate before the learned judges of the tribunal led by Ibrahim Wakili.
The most strange and unsettling aspect of the Appeal Court judgment was the listing of polling units in far away Taraba State as areas where fresh elections are to be conducted in place of areas in Kaduna State.
The areas mentioned in the document read, signed and authenticated by the Appeal court were; Lawanti Kofar Jauro, Yelo Lima, Abba Kalu and Shilo which are all wards or poling units in Taraba states, an infraction legal experts said would affect and invalidate the verdict.
A kaduna based lawyer who preferred anonymity described the judgement as embarrassment to judiciary, adding that the error would affect validity and render enforcement of the rule impossible.
A judicial officer with court of Appeal, Kaduna expressed worries and disappoinment over the misappropriation of names of polling units in the documents pronouncing the verdict, saying the mistake was a very costly one, capable of derailing justice and casting doubts on Judicial arm of government.
“That mistake of mentioning polling units in Taraba instead of those in Kaduna by the appeal court judges was unforgivable, particularly in democratic system like ours which vests power of interpretations on shoulders of judges.
“This infraction is capable of throwing out political atmosphere into chaos and confusion,” he added.
All eyes will now be if the judgement would stand the test of time.