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Yar’Adua v. Yandoma

SENATOR ABUBAKAR SADDIQ YAR’ADUA and 9 others

V

SENATOR ABDU UMAR YANDOMA and 14 others

V

THE SENATE PRESIDENT

THE SPEAKER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

THE CLERK OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

V

  1. SENATOR ABDU UMAR YANDOMA and

V

INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION

V

SENATOR ABDU UMAR YANDOMA and 23 others

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN JSC ( Presided )

SULEIMAN GALADIMA JSC

NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA JSC

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI JSC

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SC. 4/2014

SC. 7/2014

SC. 752/2013

FRIDAY, 19 DECEMBER 2014

ACTION - Originating summons - Action commenced by - Where issue of jurisdiction is raised therein - Proper procedure court should adopt

APPEAL -  Supreme Court - Appellate jurisdiction of - Propriety of adjudicating over appeals from Court of Appeal only

COURT - Issue - Where court raises suo motu - Proper step to take

COURT - Supreme Court - Appellate jurisdiction of - Propriety of adjudicating over appeals from Court of Appeal only

ELECTION PETITION - Nature of - What it entails

ELECTORAL MATTERS - Candidate - Nomination of - Issue of Prerogative of political party thereon - Non-justiciability of Primaries as a way therefor - Who may challenge

ELECTORAL MATTERS - Electoral candidate - Declaration and return of by returning officer - Finality of - How may be challenged Certificate of return - Duty on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue to - When may be withdrawn Electoral Act, 2010, section 68(1) and 75(1) considered

ELECTORAL MATTERS - Primary elections - Power to conduct - Proper body seised with

JUDICIAL PRECEDENT - Stare decisis - Supreme Court - Decisions of -  Bindingness of lower courts by - Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, section 287(1) considered

JURISDICTION - Issue of - Fundamental nature of - Lack of or defect in - Effect

JURISDICTION - Meaning of - Court - When competent to adjudicate over matter

JURISDICTION - Originating summons - Action commenced by - Where issue of jurisdiction raised therein - Proper procedure court should adopt

LOCUS STANDI - Meaning of - When a party is vested with

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Issue - Where court raises suo motu Proper step to take

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Originating summons - Action commenced by - Where issue of jurisdiction is raised therein Proper procedure court should adopt

STATUTE - Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 , section 233 (2) - Supreme Court - Appellate jurisdiction of -

Propriety of adjudicating over appeals from Court of Appeal only

STATUTE - Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 , section 287(1) - Supreme Court - Decisions of - Bindingness of lower courts by

STATUTE - Electoral Act, 2010, section 68(1) and 75(1) - Electoral candidate - Declaration and return of by returning officer - Finality of - How may be challenged - Certificate of return - Duty on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue  to When may be withdrawn

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Nullity’ - Meaning of

Issue:

Whether the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the decision of the trial court and granting all the reliefs of the first to tenth respondents.

Facts:

The 1st - 10th appellants claimed that they contested and won the primary elections conducted by the National Executive Committee of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) for various senatorial and Federal constituencies in Katsina State. Their names were therefore submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidates of the party for the election. Not satisfied, the 1st - 10th respondents filed an action in the Federal High Court, Abuja, claiming that they were the validly nominated candidates, having won the primaries conducted by the state executive committee. They prayed the court for declaratory reliefs to that effect. The trial court granted the reliefs sought and ordered Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to place their names on the ballot for the elections. Aggrieved by the said decision, the appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal, where the appeal was allowed. Not yet satisfied, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court, where the court held that the trial court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit and therefore declared the judgments of the lower courts null and void. The 1st - 10th respondents thereafter filed an originating summons in the Federal High Court, seeking determination of the following questions; whether upon a proper construction of section 68(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has the power to review, either directly or indirectly, the return of the 1st - 10th respondents, by purporting to withdraw the certificates issued to them consequent upon the said return; whether upon a proper construction of section 75(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has the power to nullify or withdraw or render  invalid, the certificates of return issued to them without a valid order of court, whether INEC has power to issue certificate of return to  the appellants when a court had not voided the certificates issued to the 1st - 10th respondents and whether the certificates of return issued to the appellants by INEC in violation of the aforesaid provisions were validly issued and could be used as a basis for the swearing in of the appellants. They prayed for declaratory reliefs to the effect that by virtue of sections 68(1)  and 75 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 , Independent National Electoral Commission lacked the power to review the return or withdraw the certificates issued to them and an order directing the appellants to vacate their seats in the National Assembly. The trial court granted the reliefs sought. Not satisfied, the appellants filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal, where the decision of the trial court was affirmed. Not yet satisfied, the appellants filed a further appeal to the Supreme Court, contending that the lower court erred by holding inter alia, that the 1 st - 10th respondents remained winners of the election until their certificates of return are set aside by a court.

In determining the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the following statutes:

Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), sections 68(1)(c) and 75(1)

“Section 68(l) The decision of a returning officer on any question arising from or relating to petition proceedings under this act

(c) Declaration of scores of candidates and the return of a certificate, shall be final, subject to review by a tribunal or court in an election petition proceedings under this Act.

Section 75(l) A sealed Certificate of Return at an election in a prescribed form shall be issued within 7 days to every candidate who has won an election under this Act. - Provided that where the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court being the final appellate court in any election petition as the case may be, nullifies the certificate of return of any candidate, the Commission shall, within 48 hours after the receipt of the order of such court, issue the successful

candidate with a valid Certificate of Return.”

Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), section 141

141. An election tribunal or court shall not under any circumstance, declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all the stages of the said election.