Again, Appeal Court Upholds Wada's Election

Capt Wada

The Kogi State Governor, Ibrahim Wada, Wednesday won another major victory as the Court of Appeal in Abuja, dismissed an appeal filed by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) governorship candidate, James Ocholi (SAN), challenging his election.
The court in a unanimous judgment also dismissed a similar appeal filed by the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
In the judgment delivered by Justice I.T.A. George-Mbama, the court held that the issues raised in the two appeals were electoral matters that should have been taken to the electoral tribunal for adjudication.
The court held that the High Court was right in dismissing the suit.
It sub consequently upheld the decision of the trial court.
But before dismissing the case, Justice George-Mbama reprimanded the two appellants for filing two separate appeals even though they jointly filed the case as plaintiffs before the high court.
He said lawyers and parties should avoid over burden the court by filing separate appeals when they could have filed only one appeal.
The court said:  "The second appeal is similar to the one earlier decided. The parties are the same. At the lower court they were together. They have similar interest. They still have the same interest even in the appeal. It is therefore surprising to see them file different appeals. This is an unwholesome practice as it had overburdened the court.
"The mere fact that a federal agency is a party does not make it a case for a federal high court. It is the issue in dispute and the law that determine jurisdiction," he added.
Justice George-Mbama said instead of filing their petitions before the tribunal, they waited for Wada to be sworn in and then went to the Federal High Court to challenge his election.
The court noted that the two appeals were challenging the election of Wada and his qualification to contest the governorship election in the state.
This, the court said, could only be done at the election tribunal and not the Federal High Court.
He cited sections 285 (2) of the constitution, which provides that an election can only be quashed by an election tribunal.
He also cited Section 138 of Electoral Act, which stated the ground upon which an election could be questioned.
He said: "Where a court lacks the competence to determine a matter, an appellate court will uphold the decision of the high court declining jurisdiction.
"We hold that the trial court was right in holding that it lacked jurisdiction."
The court had earlier upheld Wada's election in an appeal filed by Jilbrin Isah, a member of the same party with Wada, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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