Wada vs Echocho: Case “Dismissed”, Supreme Court declares Wada as True Flagbearer

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abuja today in its verdict dimissed the lingering legal battle between Jibrin Isah Echocho and Governor Idris Wada for lacking in merit and declared Wada the valid flagbearer at the 2011 Guber polls.

The court ruled that the governorship election conducted on December 3rd, 2011 that saw the sitting governor Idris Wada emerge winner as valid.
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Justice Abdul Kafarati, of a federal high court in Abuja, had earlier dismissed Echocho’s suit for want of jurisdiction on 29 of August, 2012. His appeal to the Court of Appeal was also dismissed on January 31, 2013 on the same grounds.

Not satisfied with the high court judgement, he filed an appeal at the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, which was also dismissed by the court on January 31, 2013.

Both courts ruled that the grievance for which Echocho sought adjudication was an election matter which should have been taken before an election tribunal by virtue of 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010.

Before the Supreme Court sat today has already witnessed legal fire works as Lawyers representing Jibrin Isah Echocho and Governor Idris Wada locked horns in a case that seeks to remove the incumbent as governor and to declare the plaintiff as governor of Kogi State.

Noththeless, at Supreme Court in November last year, Chief Chris Uche told the court that the appellant has no human right, no constitutional right, no vested right and no customary right to be the candidate of the party left alone to be governor.”

While adopting his briefs of arguments, Chief Wole Olanipekun who represented Isah, said the case was novel because it raised issues that had been decided before.

He said: “This appeal has no precedent in this country. It calls for your lordships intervention to protect the sanctity and potency of the judgment of the Supreme Court and the constitution of Nigeria.”

He argued that the 3rd December, 2011 governorship election held in Kogi State which was won by Wada was held in violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment that abruptly terminated the tenure of five states governors.

Besides, he contended that Echocho lacked the locus standing to bring any action on the basis of the aborted PDP nomination exercise of January 2011 as he had already waived any claim to that exercise after voluntarily participating in the fresh primary of September 22, 2012.

He said that that judgment of the Supreme Court should not be taken to have been overtaken by events caused by parties. According to him, INEC disregarded the judgment of the Supreme Court when it chose to conduct the governorship election on December 3rd, 2011.

Responding INEC, Mr J.M.M. Majiyagbe urged the court to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the reliefs sought by Isah could only be granted by an election tribunal and not a Federal High Court. He said: “The narrow issue is whether the federal high court can entertain electoral matters. Especially in the light of the reliefs sought by the appellant (Isah) one of which is that the court should set aside the Kogi governorship election.”

Chief Chris Uche, SAN who argued Wada’s case pointed out that he entire appeal revolved around the December 3rd, 2011 election governorship in Kogi state.

He reminded the Supreme Court that it had already held the election to be valid.

According to him, the Supreme Court had on 10 of September 2012 in another judgment upheld the December 3rd governor election in Kogi state.

Uche told the court that Isah did not take part in the election and that it was strange that he wanted to be declared the winner of the election he did not participate in.

He said: “The appellant sought to rely on the primary election of January 2011 which he won. But which was canceled. In the case of Sylva V PDP, Supreme Court held that the canceled primary had become no issue and no one could rely on it.”

He said that Isah was not consistent because he participated in the second primary but when he lost he turned around to ask that the process be voided.

He said that the appellant claimed reliefs that could not be granted by a Federal High Court.

He said the Supreme Court judgment which he relied on had nothing to do with when election should hold in any of the affected 5 states.

He said that Isah’s case had no foundation and should be dismissed.

He argued that the appellant waited two months after the election had been conducted before heading to the federal high court.

“My Lords, the appellant slept on his right assuming there was one,” Uche added.

He urged the court to dismiss the appeal .

He said: “The appellant has no human right, no constitutional right, no vested right and no customary to be the candidate of the party left alone to be governor.”

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