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Kogi Guber: Echocho storms Supreme Court

By Yahaya Etila
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The winner of the January 2011 of the People's Democratic Party PDP primary election in Kogi state, Jibrin Isah Echocho has approached the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal which dismissed the suit he brought to challenge the judgement of the federal high court which upheld the victory of Captain Idris Wada at the governorship election.

Echocho had in the first place dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC before a Federal High Court to challenge the conduct of governorship election in Kogi during the pendency of a suit before the apex court.

Captain Idris Wada later joined as a respondent in the suit.

Justice Abdul Kafarati after hearing the suit dismissed Echocho's suit on ground that it was a post election matter and same should have been directed to the state governorship election.

Not satisfied, Echocho had approached the Court of Appeal praying it to set aside the judgement of the lower court.

Delivering a unanimous judgement at the appellate court, Justice Akomolafe Wilson held that the lower court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter in the first place and hence the court was right when it declined jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeal however declined jurisdiction to consider the appeal and therefore dismissed the appeal and upheld the earlier judgement of the lower court.

Still not satisfied, Echocho is now at the apex court to challenge the decision of the two lower courts.

In an appeal filed by his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, submitted that the Court of Appeal erred in law, when, while concluding that the trial Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate on the appellant's case adding that the crux of the matter was the Supreme Court decision in SC 357/2011 delivered on January 27, 2012 vis a vis the mandatory provisions of Sections 178(2), 180(2)&(2a) and 287(1) of the Constitution.

He also submitted that the Court of Appeal erred in law and came to a perverse decision when it held that the core or central issue is the question of jurisdiction of the court below to entertain the appellant's action adding that the matter before the lower court boils down to the validity of the governorship election held by INEC in Kogi state on December 3, 2011 during the pendency of an appeal at the Supreme Court. Adding that the Supreme Court did not in it's judgement in SC 357/2011 direct fresh elections to be held "in four out of the five states where the 1st Respondent (INEC) sustained an earlier election held on 3rd Dec.,2011",contrary to the conclusion of the Appeal court.

Olanipekun also submitted that the Court of Appeal erred in law and also came to a wrong decision in its conclusion and judgement that the appellant's case was a matter suited for an election tribunal and not the Federal High Court.

Another ground on which Echocho hinged his appeal was that the lower court erred in law and came to a wrong decision when it held that the appellant's claim falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the election tribunal and not the Federal High Court.

Also, the appellant is challenging the judgement of the lower court on grounds that the court misdirected itself in law and came to a wrong conclusion when it held that, to determine the first two issues raised by the appellant in his originating summons would only be tantamount to an academic or moot exercise, since the answers to those questions would not not confer any right of the Appellant. This the Appellant says,is perverse because,the first two issues in question raised serious constitutional questions and specifically called for the application of certain provisions of the constitution. And that,it is the law that,in matters that call for the application of the constitution,the courts have no discretion,

The appellant also claimed that the lower court misdirected itself in law and breached his rights to fair hearing by simply striking out his appeal on the ground that the trial court lacked jurisdiction without considering his case and making pronouncement on its merit in the alternative.