A’Court confirms Senator Datti’s sack
From ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, Kaduna
Thursday, January 26, 2012
The Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna on Tuesday dismissed Senator Ahmed Datti’s appeal against the National Assembly Election Tribunal that nullified his election and ordered Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue his opponent, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, with Certificate of Return as the senator representing Kaduna Northern Senatorial Zone.
With this development, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former governor of the state, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi is to replace Congress for Progressive Change (CPC’s) Senator Datti in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kaduna had on November 14, 2011 nullified the election of Datti and declared Makarfi the winner of the election.
Ruling on the matter on Tuesday evening, the presiding judge, Justice Amina Augie said, considering the provision of Section 285, Sub-section 7 of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulated the time frame of 60 days for the hearing of appeal from election tribunal to be filed before the Appeal Court, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
Justice Augie in the 22-minute ruling, which ended 7:33pm, said though counsel to the appelant, Mr. Abbas Ibrahim argued that the delay in the hearing of the appeal was not caused by either of the parties involved in the case, the Constitution was very strict about the 60 days.
She further stressed that even if the court was to hear the appeal today (on Tuesday), the appeal was not yet before the court.
“What is before the court as we speak are applications for extension of time to file the appeal proper and application to regularise the appellant’s appeal before the court. “We can only say the court has an appeal before it when there is an application for appeal and record of proceedings of the previous judgement,” she stressed.
Earlier in his argument, counsel to the appellant (Senator Datti), Mr. Abbas Ibrahim said the 60 days ought to have lapsed on January 12, 2012 but due to the nationwide strike and the 24 hours curfew imposed on Kaduna State during the fuel subsidy protest, the court had the jurisdiction to hear the appeal. “If the court looked critically at the provision of Section 285 (7) with the aim of ensuring justice, not merely looking at it technically, the court has jurisdiction to hear the appeal,” he said.
On the contrary, counsel to the first respondent (Senator Makarfi), Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN) argued that in the first place, the appellant was responsible for the delay, considering his failure to file the appeal before the court within the stipulated period of 60 days.