S/Court dismisses Echocho’s appeal against Gov. Wada’s election

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Abuja – The Supreme Court on Friday in Abuja dismissed the appeal brought by a former PDP governorship aspirant in Kogi, Alhaji Jibrin Echocho, challenging the election of Gov. Idris Wada.

The court, in a unanimous judgment, held that the Court of Appeal was right to have upheld the High Court’s judgment.

The High Court had declined jurisdiction to consider the case and dismissed Echocho’s appeal.

The lead judgment, prepared by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour and read by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, held that the case was a post-election matter.

It ruled that the case ought to have been handled by the election tribunal.

“Consequently, the decision of the Court of Appeal, affirming the decision of a Federal High Court that it had no jurisdiction to determine the validity of a gubernatorial election, is correct.

“The provisions of Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, are clear on the point that a Federal High Court is the wrong forum to determine the validity of a governorship election

“The proper venue to hear the appellant’s claims is a governorship election tribunal and not a Federal High Court and the appeal is accordingly dismissed, ‘’ the apex court held.

It also said that under Section 141 of the Electoral Act, Echocho did not have the locus standi to challenge the election’s validity, since he did not partake in the election.

“Section 141 of the Electoral Act finally lays to rest whatever right the appellant has to contest the validity of the Kogi governorship election, which was held on Dec. 3, 2011, since he never took part in the election,’’ the Supreme Court said.

Echocho had approached the court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal which dismissed the suit he brought to it.

In the suit, his counsel, Mr Wole Olanipekun, had challenged the judgment of the Federal High Court which upheld Wada’s victory at the governorship election.

Echocho had initially dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the Federal High Court in Abuja.

In the suit, he had challenged the conduct of the governorship election in Kogi while a suit was pending before the apex court.

INEC was joined in the suit as first defendant, with Wada as second defendant and PDP as third defendant.

In the earlier judgment, Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court had dismissed Echocho’s suit on the grounds that it was a post-election matter.

He had held that the matter should have been directed to the state governorship election tribunal.

Not satisfied, Echocho had approached the Court of Appeal praying it to set aside the judgment of the lower court.

At the appellate court, Justice Akomolafe Wilson held that the lower court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter in the first place.

“The court was right in declining jurisdiction,’’ he had ruled.

The Court of Appeal also declined jurisdiction to consider the appeal and, therefore, dismissed it and upheld the earlier judgment of the lower court.

Still not satisfied, Echocho proceeded to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the two lower courts.

However, Mr Chris Uche, Wada’s counsel, had faulted the arguments of the appellant’s counsel, saying the appeal lacked merit and was incompetent and urged the court to dismiss it.

Addressing the court after the judgment, Uche thanked the justices “for giving the appellant the opportunity to ventilate his grievance up to the highest court in the land’’.(NAN)

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