The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal filed by Mr James Ocholi, SAN, defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Kogi governorship candidate, seeking to nullify Governor Idris Wada’s election. Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, in a unanimous judgment, held that the reliefs sought by Ocholi, in substance and in nature, ought to have been submitted to the state election petition tribunal.
Justices Afolabi Fabiyi, Dattijo Muhammad, Clara Ogunbiyi, John Okoro and Centus Nweze, other members of the Supreme Court panel of justices who handled the appeal, agreed with the lead judgment. “The aim of the appellant’s suit was the nullification of the victory of Wada at the election held on December 3rd, 2011 and a declaration that he is the lawful winner of the election and the person validly entitled to be sworn in as the governor of Kogi state.
“The Federal High Court had no jurisdiction to entertain his claims.The concurrent decisions of the two lower courts in this regard cannot be faulted.“The appellant has not advanced any cogent reasons to warrant
interference by this court, the apex court held.” Kekere-Ekun noted that Ocholi filed his suit more than 90 days after the conduct of the election and the swearing of Wada as governor. She said that, to that extent, the suit was a post-election matter that could only be determined by an election petition tribunal.
The court further held that Ocholi waited for more than three months after the conduct of the election won by Wada before challenging the qualification of candidates who participated in it. “I agree with the learned senior counsel for the respondent (Wada) that having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case, the appellant had every opportunity to institute his action before the conduct of the election.
“Not only did he fail to challenge any of the steps taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) such as the publication of a new timetable for the conduct of primaries. “He also failed to challenge the new election date and the list of qualified candidates for the December 3rd 2011 election, and fully
participated in the new primaries and contested the election,” the court held.
The appellant had approached the Federal High Court seeking to be declared the winner of the election and be sworn in as governor. He, however, lost at the trial court and the Court of Appeal before
proceeding to the Supreme Court.
He urged the apex court to nullify Wada’s swearing in and sought a consequential order directing the Chief Judge of Kogi State to swear him in as governor. Ocholi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, also sought an order of
perpetual injunction restraining Wada and any person deriving authority from his purported election from parading himself as governor. (Street Journal)