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Niger East: Senator Umaru appeals judgment, appeals for calm

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Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru has appealed the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which removed him as the Niger East Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the forthcoming election.

In the judgement delivered by Justice F.O Giwa Ogunbanjo on Thursday, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa who contested against Umaru in the party’s primaries in October last year was declared as the candidate that should be presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for the senatorial election based on the outcome of the primary election.

But Umaru, in a personally signed statement yesterday, said he has appealed the judgment and sought for immediate stay of execution.

According to him, the judgment stands logic on its head and against weight of evidence presented as the constitutional right of nomination of candidates for election resides with political parties and not court of law.

He therefore called for calm among his supporters and assured them that he remains the authentic senatorial candidate of the APC for Niger East in the election holding next Saturday.

The statement reads in part: “You may be aware of the decision of Justice F.O Giwa Ogunbanjo delivered on Thursday 7th February, 2019 in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1120/2018 challenging my nomination as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress ( APC) for the Niger East Senatorial election scheduled to take place on Saturday 16th February, 2019.

“Since this is my first formal reaction to this judgment, let me hasten to register my disapproval and total rejection of the decision of the trial court. I reject the decision of the Honorable court in its entirety. The Judgement is not only erroneous but is against the weight of evidence.

“As a clear demonstration of my position, I have appealed against the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeal, Abuja and I would like to confirm to you that earlier this morning I filed my Notice Appeal/Stay of Execution against the judgment.

“The law is trite and there is a plethora of Supreme Court decisions affirming the finality of the decisions of political parties regarding nomination of candidates.

“The Court has no power to nominate a candidate for a Political party. In the case of Agi v. PDP & Ors (2016) LPELR – 42578( SC) Ogunbiyi (JSC), held that _“ the supervisory function vested in the court does not extend beyond borders so as to interfere into matters that are within the exclusive preserve of the political parties such as the issue of membership nomination’

“In the same case and in the same vein, Aminu Sanusi, J.S.C opined that “the National Executive Committee of the party has the final say and whenever it approves or endorses a candidate to contest on the party’s platform, he stands nominated and no other member can oppose that approval or nomination.

“The party is therefore supreme and has the final say or decision’.

“In the instant case however, the learned trial court ignored the evidence of the defence and assumed the responsibility of nominating its preferred candidate.

“I am therefore appealing the decision of the trial court because it is not the responsibility of the court to determine who should be the candidate of a political party at elections.

“Another fundamental reason why I am challenging the decision of the learned trial Judge is that the trial court proceeded to hear and determine the matter without jurisdiction as the suit was filed in breach of the provisions of section 285 (9) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended. (4th alteration).

“This is more so since the evidence led by the party indicates that I was the candidate that was duly screened and cleared to contest the October 2018 party primaries for my senatorial zone”.

He therefore urged his supporters and well wishers to remain calm and come out en masse and vote for him next Saturday, “because there is light at the end of this tunnel”.

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