Niger East: Senator Appeals Court Judgement, Wants Stay of Execution

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By Deji Elumoye in Abuja

A member of the National Assembly, Senator David Umaru (Niger East) , has appealed the judgement of the Federal High Court nullifying his candidature as the Senatorial Candidate of the All Progressives Congress ( APC ) for the Niger East Senatorial District in the February 16 National Assembly election .

A Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Giwa Ogunbanjo had on Thursday, declared Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa who contested against Umaru in the party’s primaries last October as the APC Senatorial candidate that should be presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) for the election based on the outcome of the primary election.

Reacting to the court ruling on Friday, Senator Umaru who chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters in a personally signed statement hinted that he has appealed the judgement and sought for immediate stay of execution .

According to him, the judgement stands logic on its head and against weight of evidence presented as the constitutional right of nomination of candidates for election resides with political parties and not court of law .

Said he : “Let me hasten to register my disapproval and total rejection of the decision of the trial court. I reject the decision of the Honorable court in its entirety. The Judgement is not only erroneous but is against the weight of evidence.

“As a clear demonstration of my position, I have appealed against the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeal, Abuja and I would like to confirm to you that earlier this morning I filed my Notice Appeal / Stay of Execution against the judgment. The law is trite and there is a plethora of Supreme Court decisions affirming the finality of the decisions of political parties regarding nomination of candidates.

He called for calm among his teeming supporters in Niger East senatorial district and assured them that he remains the authentic senatorial candidate of the APC in the coming election on Saturday.

Senator Umaru further said : “The Court has no power to nominate a candidate for a Political party. In the case of *Agi v. PDP & Ors (2016) LPELR – 42578( SC) Ogunbiyi ( JSC),* held that _“ the supervisory function vested in the court does not extend beyond borders so as to interfere into matters that are within the exclusive preserve of the political parties such as the issue of membership nomination”._ In the same case and in the same vein, *Amiru Sanusi* J.S.C opined that _“the National Executive Committee of the party has the final say and whenever it approves or endorses a candidate to contest on the party’s platform, he stands nominated and no other member can oppose that approval or nomination.

“The party is therefore supreme and has the final say or decision. In the instant case however, the learned trial court ignored the evidence of the defence and assumed the responsibility of nominating its preferred candidate.

“I am therefore appealing the decision of the trial court because it is not the responsibility of the court to determine who should be the candidate of a political party at elections.

“Another fundamental reason why I am challenging the decision of the learned trial Judge is that the trial court proceeded to hear and determine the matter without jurisdiction as the suit was filed in breach of the provisions of section 285 (9) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended. (4th alteration)

“This is more so since the evidence led by the party indicates that I was the candidate that was duly screened and cleared to contest the October 2018 party primaries for my senatorial zone.

“I want to assure my teeming supporters from the Niger East Senatorial District, that this judgment is not final and has neither sealed my fate nor truncated my candidature. I remain the bona fide candidate of APC in the forthcoming Senatorial Election in Niger East Senatorial District until the position of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on this matter is obtained to the contrary. I therefore urge my teeming supporters to continue with their campaign activities and remain steadfast.

“Those who are conversant with my political antecedents will know that I am not a stranger to court battles as my entire political career has been shaped by court decisions .On several occasions in my political career I relied on the courts for justice. I do believe that the decision of trial court which gave judgment to the plaintiff, was based on erroneous understanding of the law and facts placed before the court.

“As a law abiding citizen, I wish to sue for peace and urge all my supporters and well wishers to remain calm and come out en masse and vote for me come Saturday, 16/02/19 because there is light at the end of this tunnel”.