The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the judgement of a Federal High Court, Abuja which voided the withdrawal of Certificate of Returns of 10 Katsina lawmakers by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The court also said the leadership of the National Assembly acted in error by accepting to swear-in the new lawmakers after INEC issued to them Certificate of Returns
The affected former legislators include Senators Abdu Umar ‘Yandoma and Ahmad Sani Stores, Reps Murtala Isa, Muntari Dandutse, Musa Salisu, Aminu Ashiru and Umar Adamu Katsayal, Muhammad Tukur, Tasi’u Doguro, and Abdu Dankama.
Those occupying the seats presently are Reps Ahmed Babba Kaita, Salisu Salisco, Umar Abubakar, Salisu Daura, Isa Doro, Sani Mashi, Abbas Machika and Dr Mansur Funtua and Senators Abubakar Yar’adua and Hadi Sirika.
Justice Jimmy Bada, who led other four justices to hear the appeal said that the high court was right to have dismissed the objection raised by the appellants (the lawmakers issued with the certificates of return).
Justice Bada said, “There is no court of competent jurisdiction that declared the appellant as winner in the election.
“The respondents (those whose certificate of returns were withdrawn) were duly sworn-in and I am of the view that the court below has the powers to entertain the case of the respondent.
“The certificate of returns issued to the appellants is a nullity. The court below was right in dismissing the objection of the appellants. INEC issued the certificate of returns without order from any court or tribunal”.
After the high court’s judgement, Senators Sadiq Yar’Adua (Katsina Central) and Senator Hadi A. Sirika (Katsina Central North), and eight members of the House of Representatives approached the court of appeal to set aside the judge of the high court.
They are asking the court to set aside the judgement of the high court that voided the certificate of returns issued to them by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in December 2011.
The lawyer representing the appellants, Mr. John Olushola Baiyeeshea (SAN), said the appeal, which raised four issues for the court’s determination, is not a pre-election matter and that the federal high court has no jurisdiction to hear and make pronouncement on it.
He argued that the issuance of certificates of return and alleged withdrawal of the certificate are post-election matters, and begged the court to uphold the appeal and set aside the judgement of the trial court.
The respondents, through their counsel, submitted that their case at the trial court was for the court to interpret section 75 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and to declare whether INEC had the power to unilaterally withdraw the certificate of return issued to them without the pronouncement to that effect by a court of competent jurisdiction.