By Udora Orizu
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has sworn in a member-elect, Hon. Suleiman Lere (APC, Kaduna), who was recently reinstated by the Appeal Court.
Gbajabiamila, at the plenary yesterday, supervised the oath-taking conducted for Lere by the Clerk of the House, Chinedu Akubueze.
In 2019, both the tribunal and Court of Appeal sacked Lere from the House of Representatives, holding that the APC did not field any candidate for Lere federal constituency seat.
The case started when Lere on October 7, 2018, participated in the primary election conducted by the APC for the Lere federal constituency in Kaduna State and emerged the winner.
However, the APC submitted the name of one Ahmed Mohammed Munir to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as its candidate for the federal constituency.
Dissatisfied, Lere went to the state High Court where he filed a suit to challenge the APC and INEC decision.
The state High Court declined jurisdiction on the grounds that the dispute was an internal party affair.
Not satisfied, the lawmaker proceeded to the Court of Appeal which first assumed jurisdiction.
Two days to the 2019 general election, precisely on February 21, 2019, the appellate court in a unanimous judgment, ordered INEC to recognise, accept and treat him as the candidate of the APC for Lere federal constituency in the election.
The court added that it was not lawful for the APC to recognise and forward the name of any candidate other than the appellant (Lere) to INEC as its candidate for Lere federal constituency. It further held that it was unlawful for the APC to change the result of the primary election in which the appellant emerged winner and was so declared by the party.
It equally restrained the second respondent in the appeal, Ahmed M. Munir, from parading himself as the candidate of the party for the federal constituency in the 2019 general election, and awarded a cost of N500,000 against the APC and Munir in favour of the appellant.
At the end of the general election, which was held on February 23, 2019, the APC scored 64,442 votes to emerge victorious while PDP came second with 29,709 votes.
Meanwhile, Munir and the APC appealed the decision at the Supreme Court.
On May 10, 2019, the apex court, in its judgment, upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal that Lere was the candidate of the APC. The court concurred with the order of the Court of Appeal asking INEC to recognise and accept Lere as the candidate of the APC for Lere federal constituency at the 2019 general election.
Consequent upon the decision of the Supreme Court, INEC issued a certificate of return, which was hitherto withheld pending the judgment of the Supreme Court dated May 14, 2019, to Suleiman Lere.