Breaking News

Why Kwankwaso May Lose Senatorial Seat

Mr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and senator representing Kano Central Senatorial District, may be on his way out of the upper legislative chamber.
His continued stay in the Senate delicately rests on the outcome of a pre-election case filed against him before the Supreme Court by Mr. Suleiman Ibrahim Halilu, an aspirant for the APC Kano Senatorial District ticket in 2015.

Joined as respondents in the suit (SC: Appeal No.CA/101/2016) are APC and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The suit is sequel two reverses suffered by Mr. Halilu at the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal. Last December at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, upheld the nomination of Mr. Kwankwaso as the APC candidate for Kano Senatorial Central District.

Mr. Halilu’s case at the trial stage had centered on the non-participation of Mr. Kwankwaso’s in the party’s senatorial primary and the replacement of the winner of the primary, Mr. Abba Kabiru Yusuf, who eventually withdrew, by Mr. Kwankwaso. Mr. Halilu, who emerged second to Mr. Yusuf in the primaries, argued that he should have been the replacement because no other primary was held.

 In the judgment delivered by the late Justice ES Chukwu on  November 5, 2015, the High Court dismissed Halilu’s case.

Mr. Yusuf scored 2, 609 to Mr. Halilu’s 271 votes and was declared a winner. But before the election, he (Yusuf) voluntarily withdrew from the race, and the APC consequently nominated Kwankwaso.

Mr. Halilu argued that Mr. Yusuf was not qualified to stand for the election, as he did not resign his post as Kano State Commissioner for Works 30 days before the election.

In the case before the Supreme Court, Mr. Halilu is seeking a variety of reliefs. These are an order setting aside the judgment of the lower court, an order dismissing Mr. Kwankwaso’s preliminary objection filed on before the Federal High Court on 21 May, 2015; an order granting all reliefs in his (Halilu’s) originating summons as well as an order compelling Mr. Kwankwaso to hand over all salaries, allowances and other perks he has enjoyed by virtue of being a senator.

Mr. Halilu’s appeal, according to court papers exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, rests on nine grounds.

First, the appellant is of the view that the justices of the Court of Appeal misdirected themselves in their ruling stating: “One can confidently say, therefore, that the procedure adopted by the 4th respondent (Kwankwaso) in raising matter of jurisdiction by the motion filed on 21/5/2015 is well within the law and is not a breach or violation of the lower court’s order of 3/3/2015, asking the 3rd (Mr. Abba Kabiru Yusuf) and 4th respondents to file their defence to a claimant’s suit cannot translate to an immutable order disallowing or disentitling any of the defendants to this action from raising any issue touching on or concerning jurisdiction of the lower court in a manner recognized and prescribed by law as solidly laid down by the apex court.

The perceived errors in this ruling argue Mr. Halilu, stem from the specific order of the Federal High Court of  March 3, 2015, abridging the time within which the 3rd and 4th respondent (Kwankwaso) could enter an appearance to the concurrent originating summons, file all defenses and processes they wanted to file.

Mr. Haliru is also pointing the fact that the Federal High Court order subsists, having not been set aside by a trial or court or the Appeal Court. He equally argued that Mr. Kwankwaso filed his notice of preliminary objection after the expiration of the time ordered by the court.

Another point of error by the Court of Appeal justices, claims the respondent, is that parties to a suit cannot on their own extend the time within which to do anything, adding that Mr. Kwankwaso did not apply for an extension did not apply for an extension of the time within which the preliminary objection was filed, just as he failed to apply for the setting aside of the order abridging the time within which to file it.

Equally, the appellant is contending that the grounds on which Mr. Kwankwaso’s objection was based was unrelated to the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, but to matters of his defense to the appellant’s originating summons.

For the second ground of appeal, Mr. Halilu is contending that the notice of objection filed at the trial court was done after the seven days ordered by the court and that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it. He is also arguing that the trial judge breached his right to fair hearing by failing to make a decision on the impact of Kwankwaso filing an objection outside the time ordered.

“The issue of the notice of the preliminary objection of the 4th respondent being filed out of the time ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction did not become subsumed in any other issue at the trial court and the Court of Appeal.

“The learned justices of the lower court did not show or point out the ‘large issue for determination’ into which the failure of the trial judge to determine the issue raised by the appellant has been subsumed,” argues Mr. Halilu.

Also, the appellant also claims that the judges erred by ruling that Mr. Yusuf was not required to resign his position as Kano State Works Commissioner to participate in the party primaries, as prescribed by the Guidelines for Nomination of Candidates for Public Office.

Similarly, Mr. Halilu is claiming that Mr. Kwankwaso neither purchased any form indication his intention to contest the primary nor participate in any primary as mandatorily required by Section 87 of the Electoral Act.

Lastly, Mr. Haliru is challenging the ruling of the Court of Appeal that it is the prerogative of political parties to replace a candidate who dies or voluntarily withdraws.

“The law bestows affected to make a substitution through the National Working Committee of the party,” ruled the Court of Appeal.

However, Mr, Halilu is contending that no law, including Sections 33-36 of the Electoral Act confers any power or discretion on the National Working Committee of the APC to nominate any person of its choice as candidate.

Sahara Reporters