Two Senators and eight members of the House of Representatives from Katsina State lost their seats on Friday following a ruling of the Court of Appeal, Abuja. The affected lawmakers became members of the National Assembly after the initial occupants of the positions were removed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2011. The appellate court ordered the reinstatement of Senators Abdu Umar Yandoma and Ahmad Sani Stores, while the reinstated members of the House of Reps are Honourables Murtala Isa, Muntari Dandutse, Musa Salisu, Aminu Ashiru and Umar Adamu Katsayal, Muhammad Tukur, Tasi’u Doguro, and Abdu Dankama.
The present occupants who were sacked by the Appeal Court are Senators Abubakar Yar’adua and Hadi Sirika, as well as Honourables Ahmed Babba Kaita, Salisu Salisco, Umar Abubakar, Salisu Daura, Isa Doro, Sani Mashi, Abbas Machika and Mansur Funtua.
INEC had sacked the first set of legislators in December 2011 on the ground that they were not the candidates for the elections on the platform of the now defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC.
The lawmakers however approached an Abuja High Court which ruled in their favour and ordered their reinstatement in January 2013. The ruling could however not be effected since the set of lawmakers who replaced them had filed an appeal against the ruling of the High Court.
In the ruling on Friday, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja which voided the withdrawal of the Certificates of Returns of the first 10 Katsina lawmakers.
The Court of Appeal also held that the leadership of the National Assembly acted in error by accepting to swear-in the second set of lawmakers to replace the old ones after INEC issued to them Certificate of Returns.
It was contained in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Jimmy Bada that the High Court was right to have dismissed the objection raised by the lawmakers currently in the National Assembly. The judge said “there is no court of competent jurisdiction that declared the appellant as winner in the election. The respondents (those whose certificate of returns were withdrawn) were duly sworn-in and I am of the view that the court below has the powers to entertain the case of the respondent. The certificate of returns issued to the appellants is a nullity. The court below was right in dismissing the objection of the appellants. INEC issued the certificate of returns without order from any court or tribunal”.
John Bayeshea, Counsel to the lawmakers who have been ordered to vacate their seats had opined that the 4-point appeal was not a pre-election matter and as such the federal high court had no jurisdiction to hear and make a pronouncement on it. He prayed the court to annul the judgment of the High Court on the matter.