The Supreme Court on Friday declared Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa the winner of the last election for the Senate held in the Niger-East Senatorial District of Niger State.
The court set aside the April 8, 2019 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which declared Senator David Umaru, ex-Chairman, Senate Committee Chairman on Justice, Human Rights and Legal Matters, the valid candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who won the election.
In a unanimous judgment on Friday, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, upheld arguments by Musa’s legal team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to the effect that Musa won the primary of the APC for the election and was the actual candidate for the election.
The apex court allowed the appeal filed by Musa marked: SC/405/2019 and affirmed the February 7, 2019 judgment by Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared Musa the validly nominated candidate of the APC for the election.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in the lead judgment, faulted the Court of Appeal’s finding that the case was statute barred.
Justice Ariwoola upheld the argument by Olanipekun that the suit was filed, at the trial court, within time, and that the Court of Appeal was in error to have held that the cause of action was the outcome of the primary election.
He held that the course of action, as argued by the appellant, was the submission of Umaru’s name to INEC instead of Musa, who won the primary.
Olanipekun, who led Lateef Fagbemi. (SAN) and Ahmed Raji(SAN) for the appellant, had while arguing the appeal on May 17, 2019, prayed the court uphold the appeal and restore the judgment of the Federal High Court earlier given in favour of the appellant.
He argued that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the appellant was out of time and that the cause of action arose from the day the primary was held.
Olanipekun said: “The appellant could not have complained about the primary election that he won. The cause of action accrued when the1st respondent’s name (Umaru) was sent to INEC as the candidate of the APC.
“The cause of action arose when the APC sent the name of the1st respondent (Umaru) to INEC as its candidate, instead of the appellant, who won the primary.
“The primary election was conducted on October 2, 2018, the 14 days could not have started counting, because the name of the 1st respondents has not been sent to INEC.
“If the 14 days is calculated from their position that the cause of action arose from October 2, 2018 when the primary was held, the cause of action would not have arisen as at October 16, 2018.
“It (the cause of action) only arose on October 18, when the1st respondent’s name was sent to INEC. And we are within time when we filed our suit at the trial court on October 26, 2018.”
Olanipekun noted that the Court of Appeal only set aside the judgment, but failed to upturn any of the findings of the trial court in the judgment of February 7, 2019.
Both Babatunde Ogala, who represented the APC and Taminu Inuwa (SAN), who represented INEC, urged the court to allow the appeal.
After the February 7, 2019 of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Umaru appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which revered the trial court judgment and declared Umaru winner.
Aggrieved by the decision, Musa appealed to the Supreme Court, an appeal that was upheld on Friday.