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Niger: Court sacks Umaru, orders INEC to recognise Musa as APC candidate

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA- The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Thursday, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to accept Mohammed Sani Musa as candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for Niger-East Senatorial District.

The court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo, declared Alhaji Mohammed Musa as the authentic senatorial flag-bearer of the APC.

The court said it was satisfied that it was Musa that won the primary election the APC conducted on October 2, 2018 and not Senator Umaru who is the current Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

The judgement followed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1120/2018, which the plaintiff filed through his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN.

Justice Ogunbanjo noted that while Musa scored 29, 192, Umaru scored over 5,000 votes in the primary election.

Consequently, the court granted an order setting aside the nomination and/or submission of the name of Senator Umar by the APC to INEC as its candidate for Niger East Senatorial District.

READ ALSO: 2019: Enugu East clergymen pray for Ugwuanyi’s victory

The court held that the Plaintiff, having secured the highest number of votes at the primary election conducted by the 1st Defendant, and monitored by the 2nd Defendant on 2nd October, 2018, to nominate a candidate to represent the 1st Defendant for the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, at the general elections scheduled for 2019.

The court declared that the 1st Defendant (APC), lacked the power and the vires to nominate, sponsor or forward to the 2nd Defendant, the name of any candidate for election in the platform of the 1st Defendant to the office of the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, at the 2019 general elections, other than as mandatorily provided by the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), as well as the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Defendant.

“Instead of forwarding the name of the applicant to the 2nd respondent as the candidate of the 1st respondent as mandated by the law, 1st Defendant has purportedly forwarded the name of the 3rd Defendant to the 2nd Defendant.
“The Applicant, apart from securing the highest number of votes at the primary election of the 1st Defendant on 2nd October, 2018, by a very wide margin, is also the popular candidate accepted by the electorate of the Niger East Senatorial District”,

The court also declared that the APC ( 1st Defendant) does not possess the vires, power or authority to forward to the 2nd defendant, any other name (particularly, that of the 3rd Defendant) than the name of the Plaintiff who secured the highest number of votes in the primary election organised by the 1st Defendant, and supervised by the 2nd Defendant on 2nd October, 2018, to contest on the platform of the 1st Defendant for the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, at the general elections scheduled for 2019″.

The plaintiff had argued that under section 87(4) (c) (II) of the Electoral Act, the 1st Defendant (APC), was mandated to forward his name as its candidate for the 2019 Senatorial election in Niger East.

Among other reliefs, the Plaintiff, had prayed the court to determine whether “considering the combine provisions of sections 221,222, paragraph 15(c) of the Third Schedule, as well as other relevant provisions to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended); Articles 7(viii) (ix), and 20 of the Constitution of the APC; and Paragraph II of the 2014 Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for Public Offices of the APC, whether the 1st Defendant can or has the right or latitude to nominate or sponsor any candidate, or forward to the 2nd Defendant, the name of any candidate for election to the National Assembly (Senate), other than as mandatorily provided by the combined effect of the afore-stated provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the constitution and guidelines of the 1st Defendant.

As well as, “Whether the 1st Defendant can or has the power to substitute or change the name of the Plaintiff, who in conformity with the afore-stated provisions of the relevant laws and Guidelines, secured the highest number of votes at the primary election conducted by the 1st Defendant on 2nd October, 2018, to nominate a candidate for the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, with that of the 3rd Defendant, who did not score the highest number of votes at the said primary election”.

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