By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA——The Supreme Court, on Friday, sacked Senator Sani Abubakar Danladi who is representing Taraba North Senatorial District.
The apex court equally removed the lawmaker representing Vandeikya/Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue state in the House of Representatives, Hon. Herman Hembe.
Aside directing the sacked lawmakers to vacate their seats forthwith , the Supreme Court, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to immediately withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to them.
It held that the duo should within 90 days, refund all the salaries/allowances and or emoluments they collected while occupying their respective seats.
Whereas the apex court ordered that Danladi should be replaced by Shuaibu Isa Lau as the Senator representing Taraba North, in an unanimous judgement, a five-man panel of Justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, directed INEC to issue Certificate of Return to Mrs. Dorathy Mato as Hembe’s replacement.
The orders were contained in two separate lead judgements that were delivered by the CJN and Justice Amina Augie.
In the Taraba case, Justice Augie held that Senator Danladi was not validly nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to participate in the senatorial contest, noting that the Appellant, Lau, was wrongfully substituted.
“From the totality of the appeal before this court, all the issues are resolved in favour of the appellant. His substitution at the primary election is null and void since the appellant scored the highest number of votes, the only option is to declare the appellant as winner of the primary election”, Justice Augie held.
Similarly, the CJN who prepared lead verdict in the second case, held that Mrs. Mato was the winner of the primary election the All Progressives Congress, APC, conducted from December 7th to 20th, 2014, with respect to Vandeikya/Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue State.
The apex court further held that Mrs. Mato who was the appellant before it, was the winner of the general election of March 28, 2015, regarding the constituency, as candidate of the APC.
“I hereby order the INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Hon. Herman Hembe immediately and issue same to the plaintiff/appellant forthwith.
“I also order and direct the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Clerk o the House (whichever is applicable) to swear-in the plaintiff/appellant, Hon. Mrs. Dorathy Mato as the member representing Vandeikya/Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue state at the NASS forthwith.
“The 1st Respondent (Hembe) is hereby ordered to refund all the salaries/allowances and or emoluments he collected while occupying the seat in the House of Representatives within 90 days of this order to the House of Reps
“Costs of this action is assessed at N200, 000 in favour of the plaintiff/appellant, against the 1st defendant only at the lower court and N500, 000 in this court”, the apex court held.
The appellant had in her appeal marked SC/733/2016, challenged a judgment the Court of Appeal in Makurdi delivered on July 11, 2016, which upheld Hembe’s election.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the appeal were Hembe, the APC and INEC.
The Supreme Court said it was satisfied that the Appellant proved that the 1st defendant, Hon Hembe, was not a member of the APC as at December 10, 2014, when the primary election was held.
“Accordingly, he was not qualified to contest the said primary election as he was still a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
“In view of the above position and th fact that only the plaintiff/appellant and Hon. Hembe were the candidates who contested the primaries for the Vandeikya/Konshisha Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives, I enter judgment for the plaintiff/appellant”, the CJN held. Other Justices of the apex court that concurred with the judgement were Musa Dattijo Muhammad, Kudirat Ekekere-Ekun, Amina Adamu Augie, and Ejembi Eko.
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