The Court of Appeal, Abuja on Thursday reinstated Senator Peter Nwaoboshi as the senator-elect for Delta North Senatorial District.
A three-member panel of the appellate court in reinstating Nwaobshi as senator-elect, set aside the judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which had earlier nullified Nwaoboshi’s victory at the 2018 Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) primary conducted to select the party’s standard-bearer for the senatorial seat.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja had in a judgment delivered in April this year nullified the nomination of Nwaoboshi as the candidate of the PDP in the February 23 National Assembly election on the grounds that Ned Nwoko and not Nwaobshi won the party’s primary election.
Justice Mohammed had ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued Nwaoboshi as winner of the senatorial seat and issued a fresh certificate to Nwoko being the lawful candidate of the PDP in the said election.
Dissatisfied, Nwaoboshi approached the Court of Appeal to upturn the decision of the trial court on the grounds that the lower court erred in law when it held that he was not the lawful candidate of the PDP in the February 23 National Assembly poll.
Senator Nwaoboshi, representing Delta North Senatorial District, who also won the February 23 senatorial district election, had asked the appellate court to reverse the decision of the lower court and upheld his emergence as the senator-elect of the senatorial district.
In the judgment delivered Thursday, the Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court Abuja, which had sacked Nwaobshi as senator-elect.
The panel in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Abdullahi Idris, held that the Nwoko’s suit against the candidacy of Nwaobshi was statute barred and ought not to have been heard in the first instance.
The appellate court accordingly struck out the suit for lacking merit.
“By the time the matter was instituted at the trial court, the action was statute barred having commenced outside the 14 days allowed by the law.
This appeal is allowed, consequently the order of the lower court is set aside and the suit is struck out,” Justice Idris held.
Idris also dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Nwoko.
In arguing the appeal, Nwaoboshi’s lawyer, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), urged the appellate court to uphold the appeal and reinstate Nwaoboshi as the senator- elect for Delta North Senatorial district.
He said that two issues are involved in the appeal. First is whether the case as filed by Nwoko at the Federal High Court was a pre- election matter and statute barred at the time it was filed.
The appellant lawyer asked the court to consider the reliefs which were sought by the respondent seeking a declaration that he won the PDP primary election which was not granted by the lower court.
He further urged the appellate court to look at (exhibit 1) the result sheet of the primary election that was tendered by both the appellant and Nwoko at the lower court and would find the date the primary took place.
He maintained that the suit being a pre-election matter was first filed at Federal Capital Territory High Court after the 14 days allowed by law had elapsed.
On his part, Nwoko represented by Ahmed Raji (SAN) urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the suit was filed within the time allowed by law.
He explained that the ‘action’, which ignited the suit, was the publication made by INEC showing the list of party candidates.
While the brief of argument of the PDP was struck out haven been withdrawn by its lawyer, Emmanuel Enoidem, INEC though represented by Anthony Onyeri, did not file brief, but pledged to abide by the decision of the court. – Thisday.