…Tuggar insists he won APC primary with over 54, 000 votes
Andrew Orolua, Abuja
The Court of Appeal Abuja Division has upheld the election of Senator Alhaji Adamu Bulkachuwa as senator representing Buachi North Senatorial District in the Senate.
The appellate court dismissed the appeal filed by Alhaji Usman Tuggar, who insisted that he won the primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held on October 3, 2018 with over 54,000 votes but his name was replaced with Alhaji Adamu Bulkachuwa who is the husband to the President of Court of Appeal Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.
The Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgement of three-man panel led by Justice Akomolafe Wilson, upheld the decision of the Federal High Court that the appellant suit was statute barred at the time it was filed.
Delivering the lead judgement of the appellate court, Justice Akomolafe held that the suit, being a pre-election matter, was filed outside 14 days time limit that was stipulated in Section 285(9) of the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution.
The appellate court noted that the appellant had in a petition he wrote to the APC leadership on October 9, said he was shocked to hear an announcement that Bulkachuwa was the winner of the Senatorial ticket.
The appellate court held that the cause of action arose from the day the appellant admitted that he heard and became aware of Bulkachuwa’s nomination.
“Considering when appellant became aware of his exclusion as validly nominated candidate, the suit had become statute barred.
“Any suit filed outside the time frame is statute barred”, Justice Akomolafe held.
The court stressed that though section 87(4) of the Electoral Act provided that the name of an aspirant with highest number of votes at the primary election should be forwarded to INEC, it held that forwarding of the name was an event that occurred after the primary election the appellant complained of.
“The period will begin to run after the cause of action arose and not after subsequent event.
“The date of occurrence of the event complained of is certainly October 9. All the Respondents filed counter-affidavits to oppose appellant’s claim that he won the primary election.
“The appellant did not place any Certificate of Return before the trial court to prove that he won the primary.
“The right of action accrues when the complainant becomes aware of the wrong committed”, the court held.
It noted that the substantive suit was filed 21 days after the cause of action arose, saying that, “The trial court is right to resolve the issue against the appellant”.
She also held that since the 180 days within which the trial court should hear and determine the pre-election matter had elapsed, the appellate court was therefore not in any position to invoke section 15 of its Act to entertain the suit on its merit.