APPEAL NO: CA/YL/EPT/AD/FH/170/19
AREAS OF LAW:
ACTION, APPEAL, COURT, ELECTION PETITION, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
SUMMARY OF FACTS
The 1st Respondent and 3rd Respondent contested in the election into the House of Representatives, Yola North, Yola South and Girei Federal Constituency, which was conducted by the 5th Respondent (INEC).
The 1st Respondent was declared the winner of the election by the 5th Respondent and a certificate of return was issued to him. Subsequently, the Federal High Court sitting in Yola ordered the 1st Respondent to vacate the seat as Member House of Representative Yola North, Yola South and Girei Federal Constituency and ordered the 5th Respondent to withdraw the certificate of return issued to the 1st Respondent and issue same to the runner up in the general election.
The Appellants as Petitioners at the Tribunal challenged the declaration of the 1st Respondent and/or the 3rd Respondent by virtue of the aforesaid judgment of the Federal High Court, filed a petition at the tribunal. The Appellants in their petition challenged the election on four (4) grounds as contained in the petition at page 5, volume I of the record of proceedings.
At the close of the trial, the Tribunal struck out the petition predicated on a judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on the 30th of July, 2019 in Suit No. SC/790/2019 between Abdulrauf Abdulkadir Modibbo vs. Mustapha Usman & 2 ors.
The decision of the Supreme Court was over a pre-election matter, which emanated from the primary election conducted by the 2nd Respondent for its candidates in the election into the constituency in question to be conducted by the 5th Respondent.
The Supreme Court in its judgment affirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court, which had disqualified the 1st Respondent from contesting the primary election conducted by the 2nd Respondent. The petitioners challenged the election of 23rd day of February 2019.
Based on the judgment of the Supreme Court, the Tribunal struck out the Appellants’ petition Aggrieved, the Petitioners/Appellants have appealed to this Court.
ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION
Whether the Tribunal had the requisite jurisdiction to determine the appellants’ petition on the merit after the delivery of the judgment of the Supreme Court of 30/7/19 and if the answer is in the affirmative, whether this court has the power to consider the Appellants’ petition on merit?
ELECTION PETITION- TIME FRAME WITHIN WHICH TO DETERMINE AN ELECTION PETITION
“As rightly argued by the learned counsel to the 3rd and 4th Respondents the time within which the petition should have been determined pursuant to Section 285(6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which mandates that the petition must be determined within 180 days has elapsed. Therefore, this Court would have gone into unnecessary academic exercise which the courts abhor as it would have yielded no fruit on the successful party. See, Dahiru & Anor Vs. Apc & Ors (2016) LPELR – 42089 (SC) at P.25, Ardo VS. INEC & Ors (2017) LPELR – 41919 (SC), and AR Security Solution Ltd VS. EFCC (2018) (SUPRA)”PER C.N. UWA, J.C.A
ACADEMIC ISSUES – POSITION OF THE COURT ON ACADEMIC ISSUES
“As rightly held by the Tribunal the Appellants’ petition had no live issue for it to determine. Courts would not spend precious judicial time resolving academic issues, they are of no benefit but, rather costly for the litigant and stressful for the judicial officers. See also, Abraham Vs. Akeredolu & Ors (2018) LPELR – 4405 (SC), Daniel VS. INEC (2015) LPELR – 24566 (SC), K. R. K. Holdings Nig. Ltd Vs. First Bank Nig. Ltd & Anor (2016) LPELR – 41463 (SC), Trade Bank Plc Vs. Benilux Nig. Ltd (2003) 5 (SC) P.1 and Julde Vs. Mubarak & Ors (2019) LPELR – 47222 (CA) P.38, Paragraphs A-D.” PER C.N. UWA, J.C.A
STATUTES REFERRED TO
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999 (as amended)
Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended)