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Appeal Court upholds Akume’s victory

Posted by By MARIAM ALESHINLOYE AGBOOLA, Jos on 2008/06/17 | Views: 1759 |

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Appeal Court upholds Akume’s victory


The Court of Appeal has upheld the election of Chief George Akume as the senator representing Benue North-West in the upper chambers of the National Assembly, just as it nullified that of Major Sati Gogwin, senator representing Plateau Central Senatorial Zone.

The Court of Appeal has upheld the election of Chief George Akume as the senator representing Benue North-West in the upper chambers of the National Assembly, just as it nullified that of Major Sati Gogwin, senator representing Plateau Central Senatorial Zone.

The court, presided over by Justice J’afaru Mukaila, ruled that the Democratic Peoples Party (PDP) candidate, Mrs. Zainab Abdulmalik, for Plateau central zone was validly nominated by her party to contest the election for Plateau Central zone and her name was published by the Independent National Electoral Commission among the list of those to contest election and there was no reason for her party name and logo to be excluded from the ballot paper used for the election.

The judgment, which was read by Justice Nwanyanwu on behalf of the three other justices, said there was no evidence to show that she was disqualified by INEC in April 21 election and, therefore, declared that she was unlawfully excluded from the election.

It explained that by excluding her, she and her supporters were disenfranchised from the exercise and traumatized, having prepared for the election.
The court, therefore, upheld the decision of the lower court which nullified the election and gave the INEC, 90 days to conduct a fresh election in the area, while scolding the electoral body for the time and money that would be wasted for a fresh election.
The judgment stressed that all the names of the candidates must be included in the fresh election to be conducted.

The court entered a cost of N30,000 against the petitioner, Sati Gogwim, who had defeated former deputy Senate president, Ibrahim Mantu, in the April 21, 2007 National Assembly elections.
But the former governor of Benue State, Mr. George Akume, was lucky as the court upheld his election and set aside the judgment of the election petition tribunal, which nullified his election.

Justice U. J. Anyanwu, who also delivered the judgment which was endorsed by three other justices, Ja’afaru Mukaila, A. P. E. Awala and Zainab Bulkachuwa, ruled that Akume was right in appealing against the judgment of the lower court on the ground that the respondent, Mr. Simon Lim of the Action Congress filed his petition out of time in contravention to Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2006.
The court held that the lower court should have first addressed the issue of jurisdiction raised by the appellant, pointing out that it was after it had addressed the issue of whether it could entertain the case or not that it could then proceed on other issues raised in the case.

The court said since the result of the election was announced on April 22, the computation of the 30 days allowed by Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2006 for the petitioner to filed his petition begins to run from that day. But the petitioner filed his case on May 22, one day more than the stipulated 30-day period, stressing that the provisions of the Electoral Act on timing was clear and unambiguous as all the materials to institute an action started to take effect from the day the results were announced. The court contended that the case should have been filed on May 21, citing several authorities to back the ruling.

The court stated that the tribunal erred in law when it entertained a case that was statutory barred when its jurisdiction was being questioned. "A court is not supposed to hear a case when it is instituted without adherence to the provisions of the law."
Reacting to the judgment, both Akume and Abdulmalik praised the judiciary for being the last hope of the common man.
Akume, who later addressed his supporters said the verdict only affirm the supremacy of the people’s verdict and had afforded him the opportunity to defeat his opponent twice in the election.

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