The Supreme Court of Nigeria on Friday ordered the Senator representing Taraba North Senatorial District, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon. Herman Hembe to vacate their seats at the National Assembly with immediate effect.
The apex court in two separate judgments ordered Danladi and Hember to vacate their seats immediately and refund all salaries and allowances they have received from 2015 to date within 90 days.
Apex court also ordered that Alhaji Shuaibu Isa Lau, be sworn in as the Senator representing Taraba North senatorial district while Hon. Mrs Dorathy Mato as the member House of Representatives from Vandeikya / Konshisha Federal Constituency, Benue State.
The order was contained in the lead judgement delivered Friday by Justice Aminu Adàmu Augie on the appeal filed by Isa Lau challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal that had upturned his victory at the primary of the Peoples Democratic party in 2014.
The apex court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Danladi and Hembe and issued a fresh certificates of return to Isa Lau and Mato.
Justice Augie stated that Lau who contested the party primary and won was wrongfully substituted.
Other four members of the panel headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice, Walter Onneghen, unanimously agreed with the judgement that the “the appellant has the right to participate just like any other candidate in the primary and if he feels his right was infringed upon, he has the right to approach the court.
“From the totality of the appeal before this court, all the issues are resolved in favour of the appellant. His substitution at the primary election is null and void since the appellant scored the highest number of votes, the only option is to declare the appellant as the winner of primary.
“This court hereby ordered that the appellant be issued with the certificate of return and the respondent should immediately vacate the seat. He should return to the National Assembly all salaries and allowances received as a Senator within 90 days”, Supreme Court held.
The Court of Appeal Abuja Division in a judgment had dismissed the appeal filed by Lau challenging the candidacy of Senator Danladi as the PDP flag bearer for the 2015 Taraba North Senatorial election on the account that nomination, sponsorship and substitution of candidate for election was a domestic affairs of a political party and it is outside the jurisdiction of any court as a court cannot impose candidate on a party.
The court of Appeal had also wrongly held that Lau subsequent substitution with Danladi by PDP was in total confirmity with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
Setting aside the judgment of Court of Appeal, five man panel of the Supreme Court held that the appellant who contested the primary in 2014 has the legal right to challenge the decision of the PDP particularly as Danladi did not participate in the primary.
On the appeal filed by Hon Mrs Dorathy Mato against the decision of Court of Appeal Makurdi Division, the lead judgment prepared by Justice Walter Onneghen but read by Justice Augie upheld the appeal.
Apex court held that Mrs Mato was the winner of the general election of 28 the March 2015 with respect to Vandeikya /Konshisha Federal Constituency haven won the primary election of the party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).