MRS. Aishat Alhassan, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Taraba State, who was declared the winner of the April 11, 2015 gubernatorial election in Taraba State by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, on Saturday, November 7, 2015, certainly has a date with Nigeria’s political history.
Prior to this declaration of Saturday, November 7, 2015, by the Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar-led Election Tribunal, Mrs. Aishat Alhassan had earlier been touted as the first female governor in Nigeria when she was said to be leading in the April 11, 2015 governorship election. There was jubilation everywhere then that she was going to emerge the first female governor in Nigeria.
But the election was inconclusive and a supplementary poll was ordered for April 25, 2015, in which her People’s Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Darius Ishaku, eventually emerged the winner.
That brought the issue of her emergence as first elected female governor in Nigeria to a close. The judgement of Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar led election petition tribunal has re-opened the issue.
The tribunal held that since Darius Ishaku was not duly nominated by the PDP, he could not have contested the April 11 and 25 election and all the votes cast for him were wasted.
“The effect is that the first respondent (Darius Ishaku) did not participate in the election in the eyes of the law.”
The tribunal, therefore, ordered that the Certificate of Return issued to the first respondent (Ishaku) is hereby cancelled.”
The tribunal went further to say that “the first petitioner (Alhassan), being the candidate, who polled the next highest number of votes is hereby declared winner of the election.”
It concluded by ordering INEC to issue a fresh Certificate of Return to Mrs. Aishat Alhassan. Of course, the incumbent governor of Taraba State, Mr. Darius Ishaku, has said he will appeal the judgement.
He has only 120 days to do this. The 120 days includes the 60 days within which the Court of Appeal will determine it and the 60 days within which the Supreme Court also determines the case.
If after these 120 days, Mrs. Aishat Alhassan still emerges victorious then, history would have been made. She will enter the history book as the first female elected governor of Nigeria.
If she eventually becomes the first elected female governor in Nigeria, that would not be her first history of first. She was the first President of Student Union Government (SUG) of Ahmadu Bello Univer-sity (1978-79), though in acting capacity.
She was the first and only female magistrate in FCT, Abuja, 1992 and became the first female Chief Magistrate in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) In 1996.
In 1997, she became the first female Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Taraba State. Again, in November 2002, she was appointed the first female Secretary of the FCT Judicial Service Commission.
Barely a year later, she was appointed the first female Chief Registrar of the High Court of the FCT.
On June 6, 2011, she was sworn in as distinguished Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria, the first female representing Taraba Central Senatorial District of Taraba State.
Hajia Aisha Jummai Alhassan was born on September 16, 1959, in Jalingo, Taraba State. She had her primary school education in both Taraba and Kaduna States. Her secondary school education was also in Kaduna State.
Her university education was at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where she started from the School of Basic Studies and later did a diploma in Law. With a diploma in Law, she gained admission to read Law in the same university from where she graduated in 1985 and was called to the Bar in 1986.
She was first married to Professor Ango Abdullahi, the former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, whom she had all her three children (two girls and a boy between 1980 and 1988) for.
She got married to Engineer M. S. Alhassan in 2007.
‘The judge was wrong’ – FRED AGBAJE
ENCOMIUM Weekly sought the opinion of a legal practitioner, Fred Agbaje and this is what he told us.
Do you think the judge was right to have declared Hajia Aishat Alhassan the winner, when the Electoral Act says another election should be ordered?
He was not. The judge must act in accordance with the provision of the law and the constitution. He cannot act outside it. What he has done would amount to judicial legislation, which is wrong. The duty of a judge is to interpret not to make laws. What that judge has done is to amend the law.
His judgement is a deviation from the law and therefore, the Appeal Court will set it aside. The judge is bound by the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
The judge did mention in his judgement that Section 140(1) was not app-lica-ble in this case since the respon-dent was not in the first instance, qualified to stand for election.
If he was not qualified that is the more reason he should order a re-election in which the party will produce a new candidate. He cannot order the next candidate with the highest votes to be sworn in. That is wrong. He should order a fresh election in which the party affected will produce a new candidate.