Supreme Court sacks Senator, House of Reps member, orders to return illegally collected salaries
Orders them to cough out Salaries/allowances within 90 days
The Supreme Court of Nigeria on Friday sacked two members of the National Assembly.
The affected lawmakers are a Senator representing Taraba North Senatorial District, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi and Hon. Herman Hembe representing Vandeikya/ Konshisha Federal constituency of Benue State in the House of Representatives.
The Supreme Court in separate judgements on Friday voided their elections and ordered them to vacate their respective seats immediately and refund all salaries and allowances they received within 90 days.
In the case of Senator Danladi, the apex court unanimously ordered that Alhaji Shuaibu Isa Lau, be sworn-in by the Senate President or the clerk as the Senator representing Taraba North.
The court further ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw the certificate issued to Senator Abubakar Danladi and issued a fresh certificate of return to Isa Lau.
This was the judgment of the court in the appeal filed by Shuaibu Isa Lau challenging the decision of the court of appeal That had upturned his victory during the primary that he was wrongfully substituted.
Justice Adamu Augie who read the lead judgment of the five member panel of the apex court held that “the appellant has the right to participate just like any other candidate in the primary and of he feels his right was infringed upon, he has the right to approach the court.
“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,vthe only option is to declare the appellant as the winner of primary.
” This court hereby order that the appellant be issued with the certificate of return and the respondent should immediately vacate the seat. He should return to the National Assembly all salaries and allowances received as a Senator within 90 days
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had last year dismissed the appeal filed by Alh. Shuaibu Isa Lau challenging the candidacy of Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi as the PDP flag bearer for the 2015 Taraba North Senatorial Election.
Danladi had approached the Appeal Court which also dismissed the appeal filed by Alh. Shuaibu Isa Lau challenging the candidacy of Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi as the PDP flag bearer for the 2015 Taraba North Senatorial Election.
The court held that nomination, sponsorship and substitution of candidate for election was a domestic affairs of a political party and it is outside the jurisdiction of any court as a court cannot impose candidate on a party.
The Court held that Alh. Garba Umar UTC was validly nominated and his subsequent substitution with Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi by PDP was in total conformity with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
By the judgment, the Appeal Court upheld the decision Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi as the valid Senator Representing Taraba North Senatorial District under the platform of PDP.
In another judgment, the Supreme Court declared as null and void the election of Herman Hembe into the House of Representatives, while also declaring Mrs. Dorothy Mato the winner of the All Progressives Congress ticket for Vandikwa/Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue State.
The court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue certificate of return to Mato.
The apex court equally ordered Hembe to vacate his post immediately and return all salaries and benefits collected while in office within 90 days.
The judgment was an offshoot of an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi which on July 11, 2016 dismissed Mrs. Mato’s appeal for lacking in merit.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen who delivered the unanimous judgment held that the appellant ( Mrs. Mato) also of the APC was the winner of the general election of March 28, 2015 with respect to Vandeikya /Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue State as a candidate of the APC.
“I hereby order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Hon. Herman Hembe immediately and issue same to the plaintiff/appellant (Mrs. Mato) forthwith.
“I also order and direct the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the clerk of the House to swear the plaintiff/appellant, Hon. Mrs Dorothy Mato as the member representing Vandeikya /Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue State at National Assembly forthwith.
“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 Representatives.” Justice Onnoghen ruled.
In addition, the court ordered Hembe to pay the sum of N700,000 in favour of Mrs. Mato as cost of the action.
The Supreme had also on April 7, 2016 sacked another member of the House, Sopuluchukwu Ezeonwuka of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from representing Orumba North/South of Anambra Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun gave the order in a judgment in an appeal filed against Mr. Ezeonwuka’s election by a member of the party, Ben Nwankwo.
The court found that Mr. Nwankwo’s name was wrongly substituted with Mr. Ezeonwuka’s, after he obtained the nomination of the party to contest the National Assembly election.
Dissatisfied with the February 20, 2015 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja and the decision of the Court Appeal to uphold it, Mr. Nwankwo had approached the apex court.