From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Thursday dismissed the appeal challenging the election of Yahaya Bello as the Governor of Kogi State for lacking in merit.
In a unanimous judgment, the appellate court held that the appellants Michael Elokun, Ibrahim Sule and Hauwa Audi who are neither members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) nor aspirants in the primary election that produced Bello and therefore have no locus standi to institute the action.
Consequently, the three-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Stephen Adah, upheld the judgment of Justice John Tsoho, now the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
Justice Tsoho had in his judgment delivered in 2018 dismissed the suit for want of jurisdiction.
Not satisfied, the appellants approached the Court of Appeal for the setting aside the judgment of the lower court.
But Justice Adah who read the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, further held that the suit of the appellants was filed outside the mandatory statutory time frame having been filed one year after the Kogi state governorship election.
The court specifically noted that the election been challenged by the appellants was held in 2015 and the plaintiffs, at the lower court filed their suit in 2016, making the suit incompetent in the face of the law.
Justice Adah equally agreed with the trial court that the plaintiffs had no sufficient interest in the Kogi state governorship election to warrant them institute the suit.
The Court of Appeal then upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja which, dismmised the plaintiffs’ suit for lack of jurisdiction as they have no locus standi to file the action.
Justice Adah, who read the unanimous judgment said that, it is the political party that has the power to nominate a candidate for the party and added that, “We have nothing to add to the decision of the lower court on the issue of locus standi of the appellants.
“The Appellants have not sufficiently shown any interest in the Kogi state governorship seat to challenge the decision of the lower court.
“The decision of the lower court is hereby affirmed”, Justice Adah stated and consequently dismissed the appeal.
It will be recalled that Justice John Tsoho had, in 2018, dismissed the suit on grounds that the plaintiffs, Mr Michael Elokun, Mr Ibrahim Sule and Mrs Hawa Audi had no business instituting the case.
The plaintiffs were asking the court to grant an order for the return and immediate swearing-in of Idris Wada, former governor of the state.
Tsoho, in his judgment, upheld the objection of Bello that the plaintiffs had no “locus standi” to institute the action.
He held that the plaintiffs were neither members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) nor aspirants in the primary election that made Bello the candidate of the party in the governorship election.
Moreso, the court agreed with Bello that the plaintiffs were not the only electorate in Kogi and added that the subject matter of the suit was not within the jurisdiction of the court as it was not a pre-election matter.
Tsoho said that the suit was bound to fail because it was filed almost two years after Bello had been sworn in as the democratically-elected governor of Kogi.
Other defendants in the suit are the APC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation.