…Lawyers divided over jurisdiction of court ruling

Adamawa North Senator Elisha Abbo has said he remains the All Progressive Congressional candidate in the upcoming 2023 general election, despite a court ruling removing him as the party’s standard-bearer on Monday.

Abbo said Wednesday exclusively the punch that the court ruling was baseless and should not be taken seriously.

A Yola High Court dismissed Abbo as a candidate for senatorial for Adamawa North in the upcoming general election, stating that he had been ousted by the party and therefore should not be recognized as such.

The judge, Justice Danladi Mohammed, ruled that Senator Abbo had no right to seek re-election as he had been expelled by the party.

The judge ruled that the senator and APC are bound by the party’s Mubi North local government executives’ resolution dated 7 October 2022, which expelled the legislator, thus he is not entitled to enjoy any rights or privileges. awarded to APC members. .

The party’s state chapter had expelled Abbo in October for anti-partisan activities following his outspoken criticism of the Muslim-Muslim ticket for the party’s choice of presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

In his response to his dismissal as the party’s candidate, Abbo said the court ruling was the work of desperate politicians who don’t know when to give up.

He said: “It’s not something serious though, they just wanted to get media attention and publicity because I’m involved. Outside of the media spotlight, he’s absolutely nothing; I’m not upset or worried because they don’t have a case against me.”

The legislator said he would take the case to the Court of Appeals and also asked his supporters to ignore the ruling.

He said: “You can imagine a state High Court taking jurisdiction against the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“Agitating for an ongoing case in the Federal Superior Court, the truth is that they have issued their sentence, which is what the Peoples’ Democratic Party wanted in collaboration with some people in the APC.”

Abbo also added that the necessary parties were not involved in the court’s ruling, so the ruling was baseless.

He said: “They have issued their sentence without involving the INEC, because in this case as it is, the INEC is a party and the National President of the party is also a party.

“Everything they are doing is just noise and that is where it would end. I am still the candidate of the party and I am the one with the mandate of the party”.

The Adamawa senator said he does not take the court’s ruling seriously, but to set a precedent so that no one else would try the same thing with others later, he would appeal the court’s ruling.

He said: “I will call for tomorrow, when someone is the party’s candidate but because the party’s state chair is not comfortable with that person, they don’t start threatening him with impeachment.

“I will appeal the case to deter others and not set a bad precedent. Our democracy in Nigeria is a growing democracy, it has not matured yet and we are still monitoring our democracy.

“The judiciary is part of any democratic process and for democracy to grow we have to find a way that we can continue to dispel these types of cases so they don’t try it with someone who doesn’t know what to do or where to go, that’s why I’m going to go to the Court of Appeal to set this aside.

“It cannot assume jurisdiction over INEC as a state High Court. I’m still the party’s candidate and that’s what it is.”

Delving into the state court’s powers to examine the case, a senior Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana, said the Election Act could not supersede the power provisions of the Constitution.

Falana said: “He has said that he is going to appeal, the appellate court will decide that. I disagree with him that the state Superior Court does not have the power to preside over the case.

“The state court has unlimited jurisdiction in matters of that case, the Electoral Law cannot amend the constitution, and the constitution is higher than the Electoral Law in the hierarchy of the superiority of law in Nigeria.”

He added: “The attempt by the National Assembly to hijack the powers of the state High Court is subversive of the principles of federalism.

“Without amending the Constitution, the powers of the state court cannot be eroded.”

In a different opinion to his colleague, a senior lawyer, Rasheed Adegoke, noted that although the Constitution was supreme, electoral matters as such were entitled to have been presided over by a Federal High Court.

He said: “If the case can be described as a pre-election matter, in respect of which a person’s candidacy is contested, then it should go to the Federal High Court and not the state High Court.

“If he challenges the jurisdiction of the state Superior Court on that basis, it would make a lot of sense.

“And given the reasons why they’re proceeding, except if one person has more details, but from what I know, I think the state Superior Court might not be able to hear the matter.”

“It would be a summary of the judicial process and nullified by law because the Electoral Law only examines electoral matters in the Federal High Court, so it should be outside the state High Court to entertain,” Adegoke added.

A check by our correspondent on the INEC website showed that Abbo’s name was still on the website as a senatorial candidate for APC Adamawa North.