The People’s Democratic Party on Thursday 22nd November,2012 lost the bid to stop the hearing of the Appeal brought by Jibrin Isah Echocho as the Appeal Court threw out a preliminary objection brought before it by the PDP . The sitting of the Appellate court Abuja division which had Justice Muktar,Justice Nwodo and Justice Akomolafe-Wilson held that, the said objection was filed and served on the appellants in court on Thursday,an action which the court considered a violation of the provisions of Order 10 of the Court of Appeal rules. Though the PDP through its counsel Olusola Oke tried to convince the Appellate court but his argument was dealt a final blow when Counsel to ECHOCHO, Wole Olanipekun reminded the court that,since the fourth respondent,PDP did not move its application for preliminary objection before adopting its written address,it had lost the chance to do so. And the court at that point threw out the preliminary objection,and allowed counsels to adopt their addresses before reserving the matter for judgment at a yet to be announced date.
Echocho had earlier approached the Federal High court to give an order setting aside Wada’s swearing in and order INEC to conduct a fresh election pursuant to the January 27 judgement of the Supreme court.
He also sought a declaration that INEC which is an institution established by the Constitution was under a to duty to obey and comply with decision of the Supreme Court delivered on January 27,2012.
It will be re-called that the apex court had on January 27 sacked five governors,Kogi inclusive.
The plaintiff further wants the court to declare that INEC being the appellant in Appeal No,SC/357/2011 between INEC(as appellant) V Alhaji Ibrahim Idris(as respondent) which prayed the Supreme court to decree and declare that the term of office of the last holder of the office of Governor of Kogi state constitutionally lapsed on 28th May,2011 by virtue of Section 180(2) of the Constitution and which appeal/reliefs the Supreme court allowed cannot rightly and in good conscience be heard and allowed to jettison or misinterprete in any way the said judgement of the Supreme court to again defeat the clear wordings of Section 180(2) and (2A) of the same Constitution.
The court was also urged to declare that purported election to the office of Governor of Kogi state held by the defendant during the pendency of its appeal to the Supreme court in Appeal SC/357/2011 and which purportedly produced the 2nd defendant as Governor-elect of Kogi state was unconsciable,unconstitutional,null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
He also urged the court to declare that the election that brought Wada in was done in violation of the mandatory provisions of Section 178(2) of the Constitution,Section 25(8) and 31(1) of the Electoral Act.
Isah also wants the court to declare that the letter issued by the INEC on January 30,2012 directing Wada to be sworn in based on the December 3,2012 is contemptuous,null and void and of no effect.
Justice Abdul Kafarati in his judgement in the suit dismissed Echocho’s suit on the ground that it was a post election matter and same should have been directed to the state governorship election petition tribunal and the he did not have locus standi to institute such suit.
Not satisfied with the court’s decision, Echocho had through his counsel Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN approached the appeal court praying it to set aside the high court judgement.
Olanipekun hinged his prayer on the ground that the court did not consider any of the fundamental, constitutional and jurisprudential issues submitted to him for adjudication.
He further asked the appellate court to decide whether the lower court did not totally misapprehend Echocho’s case by dismissing same on the reasons given for lack of jurisdiction and that whether the court did not fall into a serious error by holding that Echocho does not have the locus standing to institute the action.
He further sought that, considering the misapprehension of the plaintiff/appelllant’s claims by the lower court, whether same did not result in a very serious error, leading to the breach of the appellant’s right to fair hearing.
In his statement of facts, Echocho had submitted that his case at the lower court was purely for constitutional interpretation adding that it was only Wada,AGF and INEC that were initially joined .
He further stated that the appellant contested and won the primary election of the PDP for the governorship election in the state on January 9,2011 pursuant to which the appellant’s name was forwaded as the governorship candidate for the state.
He also added that “a subsequent litigation ensued by which the primary election which produced the appellant ( Echocho) was challenged by one of his co-contestants , Rasak Kutepa and the PDP stoutly defended his election and victory at the said primary election, stating both on oath and through its counsel that he won the primary election on merit and that his name had been forwaded to INEC as its candidate for the governorship election in Kogi state- that is ,the election to succeed that last holder of the office of governor of Kogi state, whose tenure, by constitutional imperative and judicial pronouncement of the Supreme Court ended on May 28, 2011.
“In the same vein,INEC also confirmed on oath and via a written address before the court that the appellant’s name had been forwaded to INEC as its candidate for the election whereas INEC itself confirmed on oath that the appellant’s name had been forwaded to it by PDP as its candidate for the election.
“To date, the appellant’s name has not been withdrawn by PDP as its candidate for the governorship election in Kogi state”.
The appellant therefore prayed the court to assume jurisdiction under Section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act, to exercise the powers of the trial Court, settle completely and finally the matters in controversy between the parties and give judgement for the appellant, in order to avoid multiplicity of proceedings.