22 January 2019

Nigeria: Supreme Court Reserves Ruling On Rivers APC Appeal

Abuja — The Supreme Court has reserved ruling on the competence of appeal filed by Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi's faction of Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A five-man panel led by Justice Mohammed Dattijo, fixed ruling on a date to be communicated to the parties after listening to counsel's submissions in the matter.

The Supreme Court had in December last year adjourned till March 8, 2019 to determine the legality or otherwise of primary elections the APC conducted in Rivers State to nominate its candidates for the 2019 polls.

Marked SC/1070/2018, the appeal was lodged before the court by 22 chieftains of the party led by one Abdullahi Umar.

The appellants, through their counsel, Henry Bello, urged the apex court to re-affirm its ruling of October 22, 2018, and nullify the outcome of the primary elections that produced Tonye Cole and other candidates of the Amaechi's faction.

They also urged the court to dismiss a pending appeal marked CA/PH/198/2015, which it lodged before the Port Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal.

However, the Apex Court reconvened yesterday, about two months earlier than the originally scheduled date to deliver judgment in the suit.

Yesterday's sitting was sequel to the appellants' application requesting the Court to facilitate the judgment in line with provisions of the fourth Alteration of the Electoral Act, which stipulates 60 days for the matter.

Bello argued that although the court ought to deliver its judgment before January 1, 2019, it could not do so because the matter has become status barred.

He, therefore, prayed the court leave to address it orally on the need for the apex court to deliver a judgment striking out the appeal on grounds that the appellants' motion of December 17, 2018, has been overtaken by expiration of time.

However, Justice Datijjo noted that outside the appellants' motion, there was also need for counsel to address Court on competence of the appeal, adding that the Supreme Court will not be competent to sit on a case that arises from an incompetent appeal at the Court of Appeal.

Counsel to the respondents, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), however, drew the court's attention to the fact that there are two different appeals; one being the interlocutory injunction and the other filed after the judgment in the substantive suit.

After taking the submissions from counsel in the matter, Justice Datijjo announced that ruling on competence of appeal has been reserved until a date to be communicated to both parties.

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