Hard done by the disqualification of its candidate, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi barely 72 hours before the Taraba State Governorship election on the 9th of March 2019, National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole tried to prevent a future occurrence.
The Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo on Wednesday, 6th March 2019 disqualified Danladi from contesting in the elections.
Delivering judgement, Justice Steven Pam ruled on the case brought before the court by Mr. Usman Udi and three others against Abubakar Sani Danladi, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, challenging the eligibility of Sani Danladi to contest the governorship election in the state.
“That the information given by the 1st defendant (Abubakar Sani Danladi) as to his age in the affidavit in support of his personal particulars in the INEC Form CF001 submitted to the 3rd defendant (The Independent National Electoral Commission) by him is hereby declared false.
“That the 1st defendant is hereby disqualified from contesting election as the candidate of the 2nd defendant (The All Progressives Congress) in the governorship election for Taraba state slated for 9th March, 2019 or any subsequent date to be slated on the ground that the information contained in the affidavit in support of the 1st defendant’s personal particulars in the INEC Form CF001 submitted to the 3rd defendant as to his age is false,” the Judge ruled.
The apex court, the Supreme Court also ruled against the legality of Danladi’s participation in the election, thereby breaking the heart of the APC in the state.
Oshiomhole, disturbed by that occurrence, called for a stricter screening of candidates by the party. While strict screening of political candidates is an almost absent practise in Nigeria, there was an urgent need to prevent sad tales in future elections.
The National Chairman of the party called on the screening committees to be more patient and detailed in assessment of aspirants, as a lack of it had proven costly in Taraba State.
Senator Hope Uzodinma was chosen to head a seven-member screening committee in Kogi State while Senator Abdullahi Gumel headed the Bayelsa State APC governorship primaries screening committee.
The inauguration of the committees was done on the 21st of August, 2019 and the primaries in both states were held eight days later.
Oshiomhole during the announcement of the committee members said; “You (committee) need to do proper screening and ensure that those who passed the screening are likely to be able to stand the test, not only of winning the election but will not be challenged after victory.
“We have a couple of cases where people claimed what they did not have or they sworn affidavits such that they have two, three ages, depending on what they sworn affidavits for.
“We have a recent case in Taraba where APC candidate who went through the entire process had his candidature nullified at the Supreme Court on account of falsification of age.
“If you notice the contradiction, identify them for clarification because if you fail to clarify, there is still another roadblock.
“The opponent can point out those contradictions and our party’s candidature might be in jeopardy. So, it is an exercise that is extremely important.
“Some people make claims to certain qualifications. They should have body proof to establish them before you and if you are in doubt, please amplify it to us, particularly with NWC, with the appropriate recommendation.”
During the inauguration of the committees, he reiterated same and also repeated the Taraba example as a case scenario that must be avoided.
“Many put it that screening is a formality but because of our own peculiarity, people are sometimes economical with the truth. We need to do proper screening and ensure that those who pass the screening are likely to be able to stand not only winning election but of not being challenged after.
“We have a couple of cases where people claimed what they didn’t have or they swore to that affidavit such that they have two, three ages depending on what purpose they are swearing affidavit for.
“We have a recent case in Taraba where our governorship candidate who went through the entire election process, his candidature was nullified by the Supreme Court on account of falsification of age. So, if we thought before that screening is a formality, we have seen that we are not meticulous,” he said.
In an even more damning judgement on Thursday, the Supreme Court ordered the electoral umpire, INEC to present fresh certificates to the candidates of the PDP as the rightful winner of the Bayelsa Governorship election.
This judgement came in barely 24 hours to the inauguration of the candidates of the APC, David Lyon and and his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo as governor and deputy-governor respectively.
It was a piece of news that sent shock waves round the ruling party, and indeed round the Nigerian political class. Again, it was the reality of a lack of meticulousness in screening of its candidates by the APC, warned against by the party’s supremo, Oshiomhole. This time around, it came with an even bigger disappointment.
Degi-Eremieoyo, according to the ruling by the Mary Peter-Odili-led panel of judges, was not fit to contest as he had been disqualified over providing false information in his name on multiple occasions.
Senator Doure Diri of the PDP was sworn in as the Governor of Bayelsa State on Friday, 14th of February, in a very fast twist of fate.
While some Nigerians have blamed Oshiomhole for the recent turn of events in Bayelsa, a fact check by ALEDEH as backed by statements and events reported above, has proven he cannot be blamed, as he warned multiple times about the need for detailed screening, to prevent any eventuality.