By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed a suit seeking the removal of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state from office.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/488/2017 was filed against Governor Bello by Michael Elokun, Ibrahim Sule and Mrs Hawa Audi as plaintiffs.
Other defendants in the suit were the All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the Attorney General of the Federation.
The plaintiffs had sought from the court in reliefs 5 and 7 of their said originating summons “an order seeking the return and immediate swearing in of the former Governor of Kogi state, Captain ldris Wada as Governor”.
Delivering judgement on the suit, Justice Tsoho sustained the objection of the 1st defendant that the plaintiffs had no locus standi to institute the suit.
The court noted that the plaintiffs were neither members of the APC nor aspirants in the primary election that ushered in the (1st defendant ) Governor Bello as the flag bearer of the party in the governorship election.
More so, the court agreed with the 1st defendant that the plaintiffs were not the only electorate in Kogi state.
The judge further held that the subject matter of the suit was not within the jurisdiction of the court as it was not a pre-election matter.
The court stated that the suit was bound to fail because it was filed almost two years after the 1st defendant had been sworn in as a democratically elected governor of Kogi state.
Specifically, Justice Tsoho sustained the grounds of objection raised by the 1st defendant to the effect “that the court lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate on matters outside the purview of Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) as the subject matter and reliefs sought by the plaintiffs in this suit are predicated on issues which only an Election Tribunal can exercise jurisdiction pursuant to Section 285(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The court also agreed that the “present proceeding is not a competent pre-election matter”.
In addition, the court upheld the argument of the 1st defendant “that the plaintiffs lacked the requisite locus standi to challenge the right of 2nd defendant to substitute/nominate the 1st defendant as its flagbearer in place of a deceased gubernatorial candidate in 2015 Kogi Gubernatorial Elections as same is sole-prerogative of the 2nd defendant and therefore non-justiciable.
“More so, the court held that the suit as presently constituted did not disclose any reasonable cause of action.
Recall that at the last adjourned date, after counsel had adopted their addresses, Umoru Mohammed, lawyer to the plaintiffs had brought an application for amendment of his originating process.
In view of the amendment order, the plaintiffs were given 7 days to file an amendment but their lawyer failed to do so.
Having failed to file within time, Mohammed brought an application to regularise his process which the court granted.
However, after submissions of counsel on the motion to regularise his application, he announced withdrawal of the motion.
Consequently, the plaintiffs’ right of amendment was forfeited, a situation that made the court to go ahead with its judgement.