Kogi East Senate Tussle: Lawyer Express Reservations on Appeal Court Ruling

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By Yusuf Abubakar.
A constitutional lawyer, Abadaki Obin has reacted to the ruling of the Appeal Court on the lingering litigation between Senator Atai Aidoko Ali and Air Marshal Isaac Alfa over Kogi East senate seat.
The Appeal Court declined jurisdiction on the Kogi East senate seat dispute as a decision in retrospect
Abadaki averred that there was no point of law that allowed a reverse gear on issues that boarders on constitutional matters, particularly when a law exists before an amendment, even though the Appeal Court panel decided otherwise. The apex court will need to look into the legal implications of the whole issue.
According to the legal practitioner, “the amended constitution is never applicable to this case, on the ground that;

“(a) As at the time the course of action arose, (that is, at the time the incidence of the primary election took place in 2014), the amended section 285(12)was not in force.

“(b) Consequently, section 285(12)which came into force on1/6/2018 has no legal effect on your case that arose sometimes in 2014“, and similarly, 

“(c) Section 285(12) has no retrospective effect on issues or course of action that gave rise to the case. 

“(d) It is again trite law that the applicable laws to every matter is the prevailing law in force at the time the course of action arose, and not any other subsequent law, or amended law thereafter. 

“(e) In the light of the above, the Court of Appeal acted in fatal error when the Justices applied s.285(12), and thereby struck out Aidoko’s appeal.

“Relevant authorities are available, the Court of Appeal’s error is fatal and crucial to the judgement”

Alfa’s lawyers led by Rueben Egwuaba relied on oral application of amendment of 285(12) to argue his matter as first respondent, that says; “An appeal from a decision of a court on a pre-election matter shall be had and disposed of within 60 days from the date of filing of the appeal” – Subsection 12 (285).
While the appellant lawyer, P.I.N. Ikwueator(SAN) and PDP lawyers led by Orih Odumogu canvassed strongly on 285(10), Court Of Appeal Act(2010 Amendment), Rule 15 under General Powers of the Court Of Appeal that says; “A court in every pre-election matter shall deliver its judgement within 180 days from the date of filing of the suit” – Subsection 10(285).
And the Court of Appeal Act  (2010 Amendments) 15 that states; “The Court of Appeal may, from time to time, make any order necessary for determining the real question in controversy in the appeal, and may amend any defect or error in the record of appeal, and may direct the court below to inquire into and certify its finding or any question which the court of appeal thinks fit to determine before final judgement in the appeal,and may make interim order or grant any injunction which the court below is authorised to make or grant or may direct any necessary inquiries or accounts to be made or taken, and, generally shall have full jurisdiction over the whole proceedings as if the proceedings had been instituted in the Court of Appeal as court of first instance and may rehear the case in whole or in part or may remit to the court below for the purpose of such re-hearing or may give such order or directions as to the manner in which court below shall deal with the case in accordance with the powers of that court, or in the case of an appeal from the court below, in that court’s appellate jurisdiction, order the case to be re-heard by a court of competent jurisdiction”

Another dimension that would have added impetus to the controversial ruling if argument was allowed to fly, is the provision of section 285(8), of the same amendment that argued inter alia; “Alteration of section 285 of the constitution, Section 285 of the Principal act further altered by;

8 (a) Substituting for the marginal note, a new “marginal note”

“Time for determination of pre-election matters,establishmemt of Election tribunals,and time for determination of election petitions
(b)Substituting for subsection(8), a new section “(8)”
“Where a preliminary objection or any other interlocutory issue touching on the jurisdiction of the tribunal or court in any pre-election matter or on the competence of the petition itself is raised by a party, the tribunal or court shall suspend its ruling and deliver it at the stage of final judgment”
With all these provisions in the amendment act and the Appeal Court act, the court had inherent power to entertain the case rather than feign jurisdiction as leeway to further the political logjam in Kogi East.
The Supreme Court reserved the right to arrive at a point of law, or as a matter of exigency in the public interest as the contending tenure expired in June 2019, and another primaries for 2019 elections had been concluded.
Senator Atai Aidoko Ali has since appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court through his legal counsels.

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