TRACKING >>The Supreme Court on Friday sacked David Umaru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Senator occupying the Niger East Senatorial District Seat and replaced him with Mohammed Musa of the same party.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in the lead judgment, faulted the Court of Appeal’s finding that the case was statute barred.
Ariwoola upheld the argument by the appellant that the suit was filed, at the trial court, within time.
The judge said the Court of Appeal was in error to have held that the cause of action was the outcome of the primary election.
Ariwoola held that the course of action, as argued by the appellant, was the submission of Umaru’s name to INEC instead of Musa, who won the primary.
The judge therefore set aside the April 8 decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja and upheld Umaru as the valid candidate of the party in the National Assembly election.
The apex court further held that the decision of the trial court which declared Musa as validly nominated candidate of the APC remained valid.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Umaru, who contested the poll was earlier declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Meanwhile, Musa, who was dissatisfied with the process that installed Umaru as the candidate of the party, had filed a pre-election suit challenging that act.
Musa urged the Federal High Court, Abuja, to set aside Umaru’s candidacy and uphold him as the valid candidate of the party to contest the senatorial election.
The trial court on Feb. 7 went ahead to declare Musa, as the valid APC candidate to contest the Feb.23 National Assembly election.
Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo, also held that Musa was the declared winner of the primary election the APC conducted in the senatorial district on October 2, 2018.
The trial court granted a consequential order setting aside the nomination and submission of the name of Umaru’s name to INEC as the candidate of the party.
Dissatisfied by the trial court’s decision, Umaru approached the Court of Appeal Abuja, praying the court to upturn the judgment.
NAN reports that a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal by Umaru and dismissed the objection filed by Musa.
Justice Stephen Adah, in his lead judgment, voided the certificate of return issued to Musa by the electoral body.
Furthermore, Musa approached the apex court to challenge the judgement of the appellate court, as according to him, the decision was made in error.
He prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the court of appeal and upheld that of the trial court which declared him as the rightful candidate of the party.
NAN reports that the apex court upheld Musa’s prayer and allowed the appeal marked SC/405/2019.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, who led Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and Ahmed Raji, SAN, respectively for the appellant, had, while arguing the appeal on May 17 prayed the court uphold the appeal.
Olanipekun argued that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the appellant was out of time, adding that the cause of action arose from the day the primary was held.
“The appellant could not have complained about the primary election that he won.
“The cause of action accrued when the first respondent’s name (Umaru) was sent to INEC as the candidate of the APC.
“The cause of action arose when the APC sent Umaru’s name to INEC as its candidate, instead of the appellant, who won the primary.
“The primary election was conducted on October 2, 2018, therefore, the 14 days could not have started counting, because Umaru’s name has not been sent to INEC.
“If the 14 days is calculated from their position that the cause of action arose from October 2, 2018 when the primary was held, the cause of action would not have arisen as at October 16, 2018,’’ Olanipekun said.
Olanipekun also explained that the court of appeal only set aside the judgment, but failed to upturn any of the findings of the trial court in the Feb.7 judgment.
Mr Babatunde Ogala, SAN, and Mr Taminu Inuwa, SAN, Counsel for the APC and INEC respectively had urged the court to allow the appeal.