THE Supreme Court yesterday sacked Senator Sani Abubakar Danladi, representing Taraba North Senatorial District, Taraba State and replaced him with Isah Shuaibu Lau. The court also sacked a House of Representatives member, Iorwase Herman Hember, representing Vandeikya/Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue State and replaced him with Mrs. Dorothy Mato. The court sacked Danlada and Hember in two separate judgments delivered yesterday in appeals marked: SC/ 583/2016 and SC/733/2016 by Lau and Mrs. Mato.
While finding that both Danladi and Hember were not proper candidates of their parties for the last legislative elections, the Supreme Court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to them and issue fresh ones to Lau and Mrs. Mato. The apex court ordered the Senate President to swear in Lau as Danladi’s replacement, and that the Speaker or Clerk of the House of Representatives should do so in relation to Mrs. Mato as replacement for Hember.
The court ordered Danladi, who was once acting Governor of Taraba State and Hember to refund all they have earned while in as Senator and House of Reps member, within 90days of the judgement. Justice Amina Augie, in the lead judgment of a five-man panel in the appeal by Lau, found that Danladi was not qualified to have been made a candidate of the Peoples Democractic Party (PDP) in the last Senatorial election. Lau, who came second in the primary held on December 11, 2016 challenged the announcement of Garba Umar (who was by then sacked as Acting Governor of Taraba State by the Supreme Court) as winner of the primary.
Before the case could be determined, the PDP replaced Umar with Danladi after giving the governorship ticket to Darius Ishaku. Lau pressed on with his case, arguing that the substitution of Umar with Danladi was unlawful because Umar was not a valid candidate in the first place, an argument the Supreme Court upheld yesterday. Justice Augie said: “The appellant (Lau) satisfied conditions and fulfilled all requirements for participating in the 1st respondent’s (PDP’s) primaries for a Senate seat. But apparently, the 1st respondent had better candidates in mind. “So, it brings in the former acting Governor of the state, who did not do any such thing – satisfy conditions and fulfil all the requirements – and after he had won the primary, it (PDP) substituted his name to INEC.
“The appellant complained then filed an action challenging the eligibility of the 3rd respondent (Umar) to participate at the said primaries. While the matter is pending, the 3rd respondent withdrew his candidature, and the 1ts respondent (PDP) did the same thing again. “This time, it brought the current acting Governor to replace the 3rd respondent in total disregard for the action pending in court. That is, the action questioning the said primary that produced the 3rd respondent as its candidate in the first place, and it thereby took it upon itself to determine the appellant”s right and obligations with regard to his complaint against the said primaries,” Justice Augie said.
She proceeded to invoke the powers of the court under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to rehear the case and determine same. She said ordering that the case be taken to the trial court for retrial will not do the needed justice in the case. “To this end, I will simply say that from all that I have said so far, and with the issues resolved in favour of the appellants, this appeal is allowed and the decision of the court below is therefore set aside. “In the circumstances of this case, it will amount to additional miscarriage of justice to remit this case to the trial court for hearing and determination of the substantive suit – a pre-election matter,” she said. Other members of the panel, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, Justices Musa Muhammad, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun and Ejembi Eko agreed with the lead judgement.
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