1 February 2013

Nigeria: Appeal Court Upholds Wada's Election

The Court of Appeal in Abuja Thursday dismissed an appeal filed by a governorship aspirant in Kogi State, Jilbrin Isah, challenging the nomination of Captain Idris Wada who later won the governorship election in the state on the platform the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The court, in a unanimous decision, upheld the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja which had earlier declined jurisdiction in the suit on the ground that it was an internal affair of a political party to choose its candidates for an election.

In a judgment written by Justice Hussein Muktar and delivered by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, the court held that the lower court was right to have held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

However, Justice Mukthar pointed out that the high court should simply have struck out the suit since it did not have the jurisdiction to entertain it.

His lordship substituted the lower court's order dismissing the suit with an order striking it out.

He said: "The foregoing paves the way to resolving the first issue against the appellant (Isah) except for the order of dismissal. It also renders the remaining two issues otiose and reduced to insignificance. It will be needless to delve into such moot questions.

"An incompetent process is as good as never filed. It should therefore have been struck out.

"Accordingly, the order for dismissal of the appellant's suit made by the lower court is struck out. In the stead thereof I hereby substitute an order striking out the action before the lower court."

Reacting to the court's decision, Wada who spoke through his Special Adviser Media and Strategy, Jacob Edi, hailed the judgment, stating that it had further strengthened his faith in the nation's judiciary.

Isah had dragged Wada to the Federal High Court asking it to declare him as the valid candidate of the PDP for the December 3, 2011 elections on the grounds that he won the party's primary held on January 9, 2011 and that his name was forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) as the governorship candidate of the party for Kogi State.

But the lower court in its judgment of August 29, 2012 held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit by virtue of Section 285(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 133 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. It went on to dismiss the suit.

However not satisfied Isah went to the Court of Appeal asking it to determine whether the lower court did not totally misconstrue his case by dismissing same on the reasons given for lack of jurisdiction.

He also asked the appellate court to determine whether the lower court did not fall into a serious error by holding that he did not have the locus standi to institute the action.

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