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Kogi Governorship: Supreme Court Defers Ruling To Feb 21

BEVERLY HILLS, CA, November 25, (THEWILL) – There appears to be a long way to go for parties involved in the appeal filed by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State, Jilbrin Isah, seeking to set aside the election of  the state governor, Idris Wada, as the  Supreme Court on Monday deferred ruling in the case till next  February 21 .

The decision was reached after counsel to the parties, which included PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had argued the cases of their respective clients.

Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who represented Isah, while adopting his briefs of arguments,  noted that the case was novel because it raised issues that had not been decided before.

“This appeal has no precedent in this country. It calls for your  Lordships intervention to protect the sanctity and potency of the judgment of the Supreme Court and the constitution of Nigeria,” he said.

Olanipekun argued that the   December 3, 2011 governorship election held in Kogi State   won by Wada was held in violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment that abruptly terminated the tenure of five states governors.

He said the judgment of the Supreme Court should not be taken to have been overtaken by events caused by parties.

He argued that INEC disregarded the judgment of the Supreme Court when it chose to conduct the governorship election on December 3 , 2011.

But  INEC’s lawyer,  Mr. J.M.M. Majiyagbe , in his response, asked  the court to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the reliefs sought by Isah could only be granted by an election tribunal and not a Federal High Court.

” The narrow issue is whether the Federal High Court can entertain electoral matters. Especially in the light of the reliefs sought by the appellant (Isah), one of which is that  the court should set aside the Kogi governorship election,” he said.

But Chief Chris Uche (SAN), while arguing  Wada’s case maintained that  the entire appeal revolved around the December 3 , 2011 governorship election in Kogi State as he reminded the Supreme Court that it had already held the election to be valid.

According to Uche , the Supreme Court had on September 10,  2012 in another judgment upheld the December 3  governor election in Kogi State.

Uche told the court that  Isah did not take part in the election and  it was strange that he wanted to be declared the winner of the election he did not participate in.

“The appellant sought to rely on the primary election of January 2011 which he won but which was canceled. In the case of Sylva Vs PDP, Supreme Court held that the canceled primary had become no issue and no one could rely on it,” he said.

He noted that Isah was not consistent because he participated in the second primary but when he lost he turned around to ask that the process be voided.

He maintained  that the appellant claimed reliefs that could not be granted by a Federal High Court, saying  the Supreme Court judgment which he relied on had nothing to do with when election should hold in any of the affected five states.

Maintaining that Isah’s case had no foundation and should be dismissed, he argued that the appellant waited for two months after the election had been conducted before heading to the Federal High Court.

“My Lords, the appellant slept on his right assuming there was one,” Uche added  as he urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

“The appellant has no human right, no constitutional right, no vested right and no customary right to be the candidate of the party left alone to be governor,” he said.

In   his submission, counsel to PDP, Chief Olusola Oke,  said    section 285 (2) of the constitution vested exclusive jurisdiction in the Election Tribunal to determine issues relating to the conduct of elections and that Isah was wrong to have gone to the High Court.

According to him, both the High Court and the Court of Appeal were right in dismissing his case. He urged the Supreme Court to also dismiss the case.

He said the issue to be determined was whether the Federal High Court could entertain a suit challenging the candidature of a candidate after an election had been conducted?

He said the Federal High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain an action challenging the validity of an election.

Oke also said the PDP as a party had the right to abandon an earlier primary and conduct a new one.

“Can a contestant who participated in the two primaries turn around to ask that one of the primaries be cancelled?,” he  asked as he urged  the court to hold  that the proper forum to challenge the validity of the December 3 , 2011 governorship election in Kogi was the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

He noted that once an election was conducted, the election could no longer be questioned in a regular court as he argued that the PDP had legal right to abandon a primary and condut a new one.

Responding, Olanipekun said his Isah could not have gone to the tribunal because his case did not fall within the grounds for filing a petition.

At the end of all the submissions, presiding judge, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, said judgment would be delivered on   February 21, 2014.