Supreme court sacks Umaru, declares Musa senator for Niger East
The Supreme Court, yesterday, declared Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa winner of the Niger East Senatorial election. The apex court also set aside the April 8 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which declared the ex-chairman of Senate Committee on Justice, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru, the valid candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and winner of the election.
In a unanimous judgment, the five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, upheld arguments by Musa’s legal team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to the effect that Musa, the actual candidate for the election, won the APC primary election.
The apex court upheld the appeal filed by Musa and affirmed the February 7 judgment by Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared Musa the validly nominated candidate of the APC for the election.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in the lead judgment, faulted the Court of Appeal’s finding that the case was statute barred. Justice Ariwoola upheld Olanipekun’s argument that the suit was filed at the trial court within time and that the Court of Appeal was in error to have held that the cause of action was the outcome of the primary election, saying 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.
Olanipekun, who led Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN), for the appellant, had, while arguing the appeal on May 17, prayed the court to uphold the appeal and restore the judgment of the Federal High Court in favour of the appellant, arguing 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.
Olanipekun said: “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 APC. The cause of action arose when the APC sent the name of the first respondent (Umaru) to INEC as its candidate, instead of the appellant who won the primary.
“The primary election was conducted on October 2, 2018, the 14 days could not have started counting, because the name of the first respondent 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. The cause of action only arose on October 18, when the first 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 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 of February 7. Both Babatunde Ogala, who represented the APC, and Taminu Inuwa (SAN), who represented INEC, urged the court to allow the appeal. After the February 7 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Umaru approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which reversed the trial court judgment and declared him winner. Aggrieved by the decision, Musa appealed to the Supreme Court, an appeal that was upheld yesterday.
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