Appeal Court Sacks PDP Gombe Assembly Member-Elect

By Yakubu Lawal

The Court of Appeal sitting in Jos, Plateau, has sacked Mrs Rabi Daniel, the Peoples Democratic Party House of Assembly Member-elect for Billiri East Constituency of Gombe State.

The Court further asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to present certificate of return to Mr Rambi Iyalah as the duly elected member.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Daniel was said to have lost to Iyalah during the PDP Primary, held on Oct. 4, 2018.

Iyalah was also reported to have defeated Daniel with 25 against 24 votes at the primary.

Mr Jacob Lawal, a legal practitioner and returning officer of the primary election, alongside Mr Magaji Lafiaji, the chairman of the electoral committee for the state, later declared Daniel winner and the party asked her to fly its flag.

Displeased by the outcome, Iyalah wrote a petition to the party’s appeal committee, but said that his appeal fell on deaf ears.

The alleged inability of the appeal committee to give fair hearing prompted Iyalah to approach a Federal High Court in Gombe in search of justice on Jan. 9.

Iyalah prayed the court to declare him winner of the primary election, owing to the fact that he won by one vote, but that the process was manipulated and he was allegedly rigged out.

The court, without any counter affidavit from Daniel, the first respondent, dismissed the case for lack of merit, and upheld her election as the candidate of the PDP; compelling Iyalah to approach the appellate court.

But delivering his judgment on Thursday in Jos, Justice M.N. Oniyangi, dismissed the judgment earlier passed at the Federal High Court, saying the trial judge did not do justice to the matter.

According to Oniyangi, available evidence presented before him by the appellant, indicates that he is the actual winner of the election but his mandate was stolen.

“Based on the foregoing, I wish to set aside the judgment of the trial judge and declare that Mr. Rambi Iyalah, the appellant, is the winner of the PDP primary held on Oct. 4, 2018.

“The sum of N100 is awarded in favour of the appellant,” he said

Oniyangi also asked the Commissioner of Police in Gombe to arrest and investigate the duo of Lawal and Lafiaji for forcefully subverting the will of the people.

Speaking to journalists after the judgment, Mr Arome Okwoli, lead Counsel to the appellant, said the judgment had further indicated that the will of the people would always stand and that the judiciary remained the last hope of the common man.

According to Okwoli, the judgment is a lesson to political parties to desist from subverting the will of the people, adding that the era of impunity and recklessness was over and wish of the majority of people must be respected.

“By this judgment, the will of the people has been determined, affirmed; and internal democracy should respect the will of the people at all time.

“We are happy that at the end, justice has been served,” he said.

On his part, Iyalah, who dedicated the judgment to his teaming supporters, also described it as victory for democracy. (NAN)

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