Grounds in an election petition are the foundation of a case; they are like the writ of summons in an ordinary case.
Pleading, on the other hand, is a notice informing the other party of what he is going to meet in court, and this is in line with the age long principle of fair hearing.
Given this background, we now introduce to you the four grounds that Senator Aisha Alhassan (The Taraba APC Governorship Candidate) submitted to the Election Tribunal and her corresponding pleadings. The Taraba Tribunal Case was based on these.
Ground 1: That Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku was not qualified to contest the election having not had been sponsored by a political party, a condition precedent in the 1999 constitution.
Ground 2: That the election was marred by substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral act.
Ground 3: The return of Governor DDI was invalid by reasons of corrupt practices that could vitiate the election.
Ground 4: Contrary to returning Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku that she ought to have been the one to be returned by INEC.
Pleadings: In her pleadings Senator Aisha stated that DDI is a member of a registered political party called PDP and was sponsored by PDP. These direct admissions of facts clearly stated by Senator Aisha amounts to abandoning her ground 1 in her petition. These entries also show that DDI complied with section 177 of the constitution.
The court is bound by the pleadings of the parties and cannot go outside the pleadings. The parties are also bound by their pleadings and cannot also go outside their pleadings.
Having pleaded that Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku is a member of PDP and was so sponsored by PDP, Senator Aisha is estopped from denying that Governor DDI did not comply with section 177 of the 1999 constitution.
Premised on the petitioner’s grounds, particularly ground 1, the petitioners were legally duty bound to be consistent on that ground, however, in the instant case, the petitioner somersaulted in the body of their case/pleadings where they materially contradicted themselves by stating clearly and contrary to their ground 1 that Governor DDI is a member of PDP and was sponsored by PDP.
Her pleadings now supersede her grounds and amounts to abandoning ground 1 of her petition. So DDI was no longer going to court/tribunal to prove that he is a member of PDP or that he was sponsored by PDP, these positions having been settled for him by the petitioner herself and that shows that Governor DDI complied with the 1999 constitution.Haba, so the petitioner had already done the work for the court/tribunal, and they still went ahead to rule that the party did not duly sponsor governor DDI?
Furthermore, the Court/Tribunal made findings of fact that the election was conducted in the substantial compliance with the provisions of the electoral act in that the petitioners could not establish electoral irregularities/overvoting.
These findings of fact demolish the petitioners’ grounds 2 and 3.
Ground 4 of the petitioners is alien and not contemplated by section 138 of the electoral act as one of the bases under which an election can be questioned.
Based on the above, you can see for yourself that Senator Aisha Alhasan and APC should not rejoice yet.