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Supreme Court upholds Kogi gov’s election

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal which had sought the nullification of the 2011 governorship election of Captain (retired) as the governor of Kwara State.

Idris contested the election as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The appeal was initiated by the governorship candidate of the now defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), James Ocholi (SAN). Ocholi, amomg others, urged the court to nullify Wada’s election and declare him the validly elected governor.

Ocholi had contended that Wada was not qualified to contest in the December 3, 2011 governorship election because he (Wada) was not a candidate for the election earlier scheduled for April 26 of the same year.

He argued that the election earlier scheduled for April 26, 2011 was not cancelled but only postponed to December 3, 2011, on the account of a court order.

Ocholi argued that ‎the submission of nomination forms by candidates having closed on February 28, 2011 for the rescheduled April 26 election, Wada, who later became a candidate in the election held on December 3, 2011 was not qualified to participate in the election.

In a unanimous judgment Friday, the Supreme Court held that Ocholi’s appeal lacked merit.

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun read the lead judgment

The Court affirmed the concurrent judgments of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court ‎in Lokoja, which had both dismissed the appellant’s case. It held ‎that the Federal High Court, Lokoja had in its judgment delivered on July 10, 2013, rightly dismissed Ocholi’s suit ‎for lack of jurisdiction.

It further held that the prayers sought by Ocholi, in substance and in nature, was a matter that could be entertained by the election petition tribunal.

“The aim of the appellant’s suit was the nullification of the victory of Wada at the election held on December 3, 2011 and a declaration that he is the lawful winner of the election and the person validly entitled to be sworn in as the governor of Kogi state.

“The Federal High Court had no jurisdiction to entertain his claims. The concurrent decisions of the two lower courts in this regard cannot be faulted. The appellant has not advanced any cogent reasons to warrant interference by this court.”

The court held that Ocholi waited for more than three months after the conduct of the election that produced Wada as governor before raising the issue of qualification of the candidates who participated in the election.

“It had become a post-election matter that could only be determined by an election tribunal. I agree with the learned senior counsel for the respondent (Wada) that having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case, the appellant had every opportunity to institute his action before the conduct of the election.

“Not only did he fail to challenge any of the steps taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission such as the publication of a new timetable for the conduct of primaries, the new election date and the list of qualified candidates for the December 3rd 2011 election, he fully participated in the new primaries and contested the election,” The court said.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, Justices  Afolabi ‎Fabiyi, Dantijo Muhammad, Clara Ogunbiyi, John Okoro and Centus Nweze, who were in the panel that heard the appeal, agreed with the lead judgment.

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