January 26, 2023

Danladi: Appeal Court upholds FHC’s vacation of Supreme Court’s verdict


  • PDP kicks, heads to Supreme Court for review

By Evelyn Usman

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has upheld the setting aside of a Supreme Court’s judgment which disqualified the former acting governor of Taraba State, Senator Sani Danladi from contesting in any election in the state.

The Court maintained that it had jurisdiction to set aside the judgment of superior courts if the same was not delivered on its merit and if the such judgment was based on the statute of limitations.

Danladi was disqualified by the Federal High Court from participating in March 9, 2019, Taraba governorship election, for falsifying his age in the documents he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC at the time.

But he appealed his disqualification to the Supreme Court and lost. Yet, he filed a fresh application before the High Court in Jalingo to nullify the 2019 judgment and had his way.

Justice Amobeda in his ruling affirmed that the court had jurisdiction to set aside its initial judgment owing to supporting documents provided by Danladi which qualified him to participate in any election whatsoever.

While referring to the case of Supreme Court Vs Dingyadi, INEC Vs Okoro Ugwuanyi, and Kogi State Vs INEC, during the ruling, Justice Amobeda , further affirmed that the court of law had a jurisdiction to set aside its earlier judgment or make another decision if there was a hole in the earlier judgement.

With the victory, Danladi was reinstated as the APC’s candidate for Taraba North Senatorial District in the next month’s election.

However, reactions have started to trail the judgement of the Court of Appeal, with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP describing it as an affront to the rule of law. It posited its stands on the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction to entertain a matter already decided by the Supreme Court.

A senior counsel in the case, Edwin Agbu, described it as a shock. Agbu said: “It is PDP’s contention that he stands disqualified and cannot participate in the 2023 election. Now the Court of Appeal says he can because the Supreme Court judgement was not on the merit of Danladi’s case. But please do not ask me the ramifications of this Court of Appeal judgement for the judiciary, democracy and orderliness in society because they are scary, to me.

“I do not want to delve into that for some reason. All I can tell you is that we have received immediate instructions from our clients to proceed to the Supreme Court.

“We argued before the courts that the setting aside of the Federal High Court, FHC judgement by another FHC is a nullity.

“This is because an appeal is simply a continuation of the case it seeks to appeal so that when a case is appealed up to the Supreme Court and judgment is given, the judgment of the lower courts is subsumed and covered by the Supreme Court’s judgement.

“In that scenario, the lower court’s judgement was no longer available on its own to be set aside, so that when you now purport to do so, you are truly setting aside the very Supreme Court judgement that has been delivered on that case.”

Also, another senior lawyer who spoke on the condition of anonymity described it as ‘Blue Murder’.
He said, “”Already, aggrieved stakeholders had sent a petition to the National Judicial Council over the issue but action is yet to be taken. Sani Abubakar Danladi has been waving the last judgment he obtained from the Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo as his defence to the Supreme Court judgement.

“When this case came up at the Federal High Court Abuja, the court gave judgment saying that the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court has been set aside by the later judgement of the same court and that there is no judgement disqualifying Sani Abubakar Danladi from contesting the election.

“Funnily enough, the court in its judgement kept mum over the Supreme Court’s judgment. The court refuses to answer the question whether the setting aside of the judgment of the Supreme Court by the Federal High Court Judge is not a serious violation of the constitution as provided under Section 287(1),” he said.