Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the election of Senator Peter Nwaoboshi as the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary election held on October 2, 2018 for the Delta North senatorial district.
By the judgment, Nwaoboshi was duly elected on February 23, 2019 National Assembly election.
The Supreme Court’s five-man panel of Justices led by Justice John Okoro dismissed the two suits filed by Chief Ned Nwoko for lack of jurisdiction.
In a unanimous decision, the apex court held that the originating summons filed by Nwoko on December 11, 2018 at the Federal High Court in Abuja was incompetent and that the trial judge was therefore in error as the incompetent process had robbed the court of its jurisdiction.
Justice Okoro in the judgment, said: “The originating summons is incompetent; judgment of the trial court is without jurisdiction’’.
”This court has raised the issue of jurisdiction suo 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 Senator Nwaoboshi winner of the primary election on October 2, 2018 and that the declaration set off the action taken by the appellant.
“Nwoko was already 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.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja granted the relief sought and declared Nwoko as senator-elect for Delta North district.
Aggrieved by the court’s decision Senator Nwaoboshi approached the Court of Appeal and lodged an appeal.
The Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment set aside the judgment of Federal High Court 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 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.
Subsequent to this, the court delivered its judgment.