The Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abuja, on Friday dismissed the application of Hon. Sumbo Olugbemi, the lawmaker representing Oluyole Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, asking the court to overturn the ruling of two lower courts; the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan on the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to hear election petitions.
The court also awarded the cost of ₦250,000 as cost against him in favour of Hon. Olujide Adewale Lawrence after holding that the Federal High Court had the prerequisite jurisdiction to hear the election petitions filed before it by Hon. Olujide against Olugbemi and three others on Olugbemi’s emergence as the All Progressive Congress (APC) flag bearer in the House of Representatives election.
The five-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, upheld the decisions of the lower courts sitting in Ibadan and ruled that there is no reason to set aside the concurrent findings of the two lower courts that the federal high court has jurisdiction.
Justice Peter-Odili in giving judgment in the matter held that the appeal of Hon. Olugbemi lacks merit as the concurrent findings and conclusion of the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal, Ibadan are not to be tampered with.
“The concurrent findings and conclusion of the two courts below are not to be tampered with, the exceptions that would have empowered this Apex court to so interfere, upset, disturb those findings and conclusion do not exist. The appeal is therefore dismissed. I award the sum of N250,000 as cost to the respondent (Hon. Olujide) to be paid by the appellant (Hon. Olugbemi).”
Justice Amina Adamu Augie in her support judgment stated that Section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) opened doors to the Federal High Courts and state high courts as well as courts in the Federal Capital Territory to aspirants of political offices who are short-changed in the process of being selected or nominated as candidates to seek redress.
Also in supporting the judgement, Justice Paul Adamu Galinge stated that he agrees that the lower courts were right when they held that the federal high court has concurrent jurisdiction with the FCT and state High Courts to hear and determine pre-election matters arising from primary elections of political parties.
Hon Olujide had on October 24, 2014 filed an application before the Federal High Court seeking two declaratory reliefs and five ancillary orders; a declaration that he is the elected flag bearer of APC in the 2015 general elections having polled the majority votes cast during the primary election and a declaration that Olugbemi’s nomination is null and void.
He also asked that the court give an order nullifying Olugbemi’s nomination, that APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accord him his due recognition, that court should restrain APC and INEC from recognizing Olugbemi, an order nullifying Olugbemi’s nomination and an order declaring him as the lawful candidate as well as withdraw Olugbemi’s certificate of return.
Olugbemi had filed an application that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter and had contested the ruling of the court that it had jurisdiction up to the Supreme Court where it was dismissed on Friday.