By Abdullateef Jos
The Court of Appeal, Kaduna has ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued Nasiru Abduwa as House of Representatives member-elect, representing Gezawa/Gabasawa Federal Constituency of Kano state at National Assembly.
The Appeal Court also ordered the recognition of Mahmoud Mohammed Santsi as the duly elected reps member of Gezawa/Gabasawa Federal Constituency who won the APC primary conducted on 11th October 2018 and should be issued a certificate of return.
The court insisted that Nasiru Abduwa was not duly elected by the party faithful at the primary election of the APC as a member representing Gezawa/Gabasawa Federal Constituency
In a unanimous judgment read by the lead judge, Justice Adefope-Okoji said the Kano High Court presided by Justice Nasiru Saminu erred in law not to have granted the prayers of the appellant Mahmoud Mohammed Santsi as the duly elected APC flag bearer who was unlawfully substituted for Nasiru Abduwa.
Justice Adefope-Okoji while granting the 9 prayers of the Appellant said that even the letter written by the Kano APC Chairman, Abdullahi Abbas as cited as evidence at the lower court ought to have been accepted as it clearly clarified Mahmoud Mohammed Santsi as the winner of the APC primary conducted for House of Representatives member for Gezawa/Gabasawa Federal Constituency
She cited the Orhena Adugu Gbileve vs Mrs. Ngunan Addingi (Supreme Court) 2014, 16 NWLR part 1433 page 394 delivered on 31/1/2014.
Justice Adefope-Okoji said the facts are similar to this case , Mrs.Addingi was screened, contested & won but was unlawfully substituted by the state party chairman. She protested but the party failed to reverse its unlawful decision.
The Supreme court held that at page 28 of the printed judgment” It should be stressed that where a party abides by the Electoral Act and Party Guidelines to conduct its primaries and a candidate emerges as a winner of the said primaries, the party or any of its officials cannot whimsically substitute the candidate who emerged the winner of the primaries.
If this happens the candidate substituted has a legal right to go to court. Where it happens as it transpired in this case the court is unable to rule on the illegal substitution before the actual election takes place, if the candidate who became the beneficiary of substitution wins the election, the candidate substituted can be declared the winner of the election”
In Emeka vs Okadigbo (2012) All FWLR pt 651 page 1426 at 1449 the Supreme Court per Lord Rhodes -Vivour JSC held;
“The courts will never allow a political party to act arbitrarily or as it likes. A political party must obey its own constitution”
She then awarded N200,000 damages each against each of the respondent the APC and INEC in the suit to be paid to Mahmoud Mohammed
Speaking shortly after the judgment, counsel to the appellant, Muhammad Balarabe, Dan’Azumi who held brief for Yunus Ustaz Usman, SAN commended the appeal court for a fair and just judgment stressing that there truly still hopes for embattled and aggrieved Nigerians in our courts despite the abysmal level of things in the country.
Barrister Shittu Tajudeen represented APC, Barriter Badiya Lawan Ibrahim was Council to INEC, and Abdulrazaq Ahmed represented Nasiru Abduwa