The Supreme Court has scheduled judgment for June 14 in the dispute over who was the actual candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Niger-East Senatorial District, Niger State in the last general elections.
Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, who led a five-man panel that heard an appeal on the dispute, announced that date after listening to arguments from lawyers to parties in the case.
The appeal, marked: SC/405/2019 was filed by Mohammed Sani Musa against the April 8, 2019 judgment by the Court of Appeal, Abuja, affirming Senator David Umaru as candidate of the APC in the last election and voiding a February 7, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared Musa the validly nominated candidate of the party.
Opposing Musa’s appeal on Thursday, Umaru’s lawyer, Damian Dodo (SAN) urged the court to reject the appeal and uphold the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
Dodo said the case was statute barred and caught by Section 285(9) of the Constitution, the appellant having not commenced that case at the trial court within the 14 days required by law.
He argued that the cause of action arose on October 2, 2018 the day the APC held its primary election for the Niger-East Senatorial District and not October 18 when the party sent Umaru’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as its candidate.
He argued that the appellant slept on his right and failed to act in accordance with the spirit of proactiveness in Section 285(9) Constitution.
Dodo, who referred to a letter written by Musa on October 8, 2018, argued that “as at the 8 of October, 2018 there was a known/disclosed defendant, by appellant’s admission, of who to sue, but he went to sleep,so the argument that he could only sue on 18th October 2018 is not tenable.”
In his argument, lawyer to appellant,Wole Onalipekun (SAN) prayed the court uphold the appeal and restore the judgment of the Federal High Court earlier given in favour of the appellant.
Olanipekun argued that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the appellant was out of time and that the cause of action arose from the day the primary was held.
He said: “The appellant could not have complained about the primary election that he won. The cause of action accrued when the1st respondent’s name (Umaru) was sent to INEC as the candidate of the APC.
“The cause of action arose when the APC sent the name of the1s respondent to INEC as its candidate, instead of the appellant, who won the primary.
“The primary election was conducted on October 2, 2018, if the 14 days starts counting, the name of the 1st respondents 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.
“It only arose on October 18, when the1st respondent’s name was sent to INEC. And we are within time when we filed our suit at the trial court on October 26, 2018.”
Olanipekun,while urging the court to uphold the judgment of the trial court, noted that the Court of Appeal only set aside the judgment, but failed to upturn any of the findings of the trial court in the judgment.
Babatunde Ogala, who represented the APC and Taminu Inuwa (SAN), who represented INEC urged the court to allow the appeal.