Supreme Court Declares Nwaoboshi as Senator of Delta North Senatorial District

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court has declared Senator Peter Nwaoboshi as the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary held on October 2, 2018 and duly elected on February 23, 2019.

The apex court in upholding Nwaoboshi’s election, struck out the two appeals filed by Ned Nwoko challenging Nwaoboshi’s election for lack of jurisdiction.

In a unanimous decision on Tuesday, the apex court said that the originating summons filed by Nwoko on December 11, 2018 at the Federal High Court in Abuja was incompetent and that the trial court judge was therefore in error as the incompetent process had robbed the court of its jurisdiction.

Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Inyang Okoro stated that: “The originating summons is incompetent, judgment of the trial court is without jurisdiction.

“This court has raised the issue of jurisdiction so moto (on its own) in the light of section 295(8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) as to when the cause of action arose.”

The appellant and indeed all parties agreed that the PDP declared Nwaoboshi winner of the primary election on October 2, 2018 and that the declaration set off the action taken by the appellant.

“The appellant (Nwoko) was aggrieved on October 2, 2018 when the result was announced,” justice Okoro held.

He said that the argument by Nwoko’s lawyer that the cause of action was a continuous injury did not fly at all in the light of the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution.

The amendment provides that pre-election matters should be filed within 14 days when the action, event and decision took place. In the instant case, the appellant went to court on December 11, 2018.

The trial court judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, granted the relief sought and declared Nwoko as senator-elect for Delta North district.

Aggrieved by the court’s decision, Nwaoboshi approached the Court of Appeal and lodged an appeal.

The Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered by Justice Mohammed and struck out Nwoko’s suit for being statute barred at the time it was filed at the lower court.

Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Mohammed Baba Idris held that: “By the time the matter was instituted, the action was statute barred having commenced outside the 14 days allowed by the law.”

Dissatisfied with the decision, Nwoko had brought the matter before the Supreme Court.

But before the appeals could be argued, the five justices of the apex court panel raised the issue of jurisdiction and asked the lawyers to address them, following which the suit was dismissed for being incompetent and lacking merit.