By NBF News

The Court of Appeal, sitting in Ilorin on Thursday, affirmed the ruling of the lower tribunal that dismissed a suit filed against the election of Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State by Peoples Progressive Alliance ([PPA), candidate, Oyinkansola Saraki, in the April, 2007 general election. Justices of the five-man panel, led by Justice N.S. Ngwuta, unanimously dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.

The PPA's candidate had appealed against the judgment of the lower tribunal which dismissed her petition, challenging the incumbent governor's election on ground of exclusion to participate in the polls.

Delivering the judgment, Justice M.A. Owoade, Thursday ruled that the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) was not the same as the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), registered by INEC to participate in the election.

He said that a non-existing party could not sponsor candidate for any election, let alone filing a suit challenging the election. 'Peoples Progressive Alliance is not a party registered and known by law. The one registered and known by law is Progressive Peoples Alliance, and they are not the same. 'A non-existing political party cannot be made one under the law. 'The appeal lacks merit and dismissed', he ruled.

The court also awarded N 50,000 cost in favour of each respondent.

Reacting to the judgment, Dr Ahmad Alli, the state Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, said the case was an indication of flaws in Nigeria's electoral laws. He said there was a need for minimum requirement for cases that should be brought before the election tribunal with a view to saving the time of the court.

'Thank God, the case went the way it went, but it is a consummated example of flaws in our electoral system. This is a case that went for over three years and the petitioner came to court with a party not known to law to waste the time of everybody. 'Cases like this should, perhaps, go to arbitration court in order not to waste time. It is high time our electoral laws gave minimum standard to cases to be pursued at the tribunal to save time', he said.

Also reacting, Mr Abdulkadir Bayero, counsel to one of the respondents, said the judgment was 'apt and precise', saying that a non-existing party could not claim exclusion in any election. 'A non-existing party cannot claim exclusion in any election. A party unknown to law cannot file suit against any election. I commend theindustry of the learned jurists in their judgment', he added.