Mike Ozekhome SAN Speaks On Appeal Court Verdict On NASS Election Plateau Tribunal, Says Decision was Made Per Incuriam.
Ozekhome made this remarks at the premises of the Plateau State High Court after the adoption of Final Written Addresses of parties involved in a petition filed before the National Assembly Plateau Election Tribunal, Plateau North Senatorial District.
Recall that on the 22nd day of October, 2023, the Abuja Court of Appeal, dismissed the verdict of the Elections Petitions Tribunal, which upheld the victories of the Senate minority leader, Sen. Dr. Simon Mwadkon of the Plateau North and Hon. Musa Agha Avia, member representing Bassa Jos North Federal constituency in the National Assembly.
The appeal succeeded on ground that the subsisting court order has not been Substantially complied with and that for the sake of due process, the Plateau North Senatorial District and Bassa Jos North Federal constituency elections conducted by the first respondent INEC on February 25th, 2023 was nullified.
The Commission was thereby ordered to conduct a Fresh election between all parties and within 90 days from 22nd October 2023, being the day the judgment was passed.
However, in his submission, Ozekhome said probably the attention of the Appeal Court was not drawn to series of Supreme Court judgments on similar matters. “And when the Supreme Court speaks, the Appeal Court blow mute trumpet. That’s why I said the Court of Appeal’s attention was not drawn to the series of Judgments by the Supreme Court, including that of yesterday.
“That of May 2023, between PDP and Shettima and you are talking of Court of Appeal? I want to believe the judgment was delivered per Incuriam because their attention was not drawn, otherwise they wouldn’t have done what they did because the Appeal Court cannot ove ruled the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court decision is that you cannot challenge a political party over structure even if doesn’t have the structure. Moreover, PDP has structure.
“The point is that it is wrong to peep into the offence of your neighbor and start challenging him over issues within his domain.
“The Petitioners are not PDP and did not participate in the said primaries. Specifically, APC did not participate in PDP’s primaries for them to have the locus to challenge it and that’s the line of decision. Yesterday, the Supreme Court also dismissed the case of APM against INEC on this same ground”, Ozekhome said.
Recall also that last Friday, 20th October, 2023, the same Court of Appeal in the Case of Tarfaya Asarya of the APC Challenging the Nomination, qualification and Sponsorship of the PDP candidate Dr. Midala Balami and also challenging the disobedience of the Supreme Court order by the PDP in Borno State; The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja led by Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme held that under section 285(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the tribunal had a special jurisdiction to only determine whether anyone was validly elected.
Justice Chioma said that the scope of the jurisdiction conferred on the Tribunal by the Constitution cannot be expanded to include the determination of the validity of the conduct of primary election or nomination of candidates by political parties.
The Appeal Court held that the appropriate Place to challenge the nomination, sponsorship or qualification of a candidate, including the disobedience of Court Order by a Political Party, is the High Court, not the Tribunal or Appeal Court or any other Court.
Consequently, Hon. Justice Chioma affirmed the judgment of the Tribunal in Borno which held that the issue of nomination, sponsorship, and qualification of a candidate, in addition to disobedience to Court Order are pre election matters that can only be challenged by party members in Federal High Court.