The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal filed by a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Umar Ardo, seeking to join a suit challenging the eligibility of President Goodluck Jonathan to seek re-election in 2015.
His lawyer, Dr. Abiodun Amuda-Kannike (SAN), on Tuesday withdrew the appeal following pressure by the seven-man panel of the Supreme Court, which persuaded him to withdraw the appeal in respect of his (Ardo’s) bid to join the main suit.
Ardo had gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which disallowed him from joining a pending appeal on Jonathan’s eligibility to seek a re-run in 2015.
At the hearing of the appeal, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who headed the panel, sought to clarify misconceptions about the appeal after counsel for the parties announced their appearances.
Justice Mohammed faulted the basis for filing the appeal, which he said was unwarranted and had stalled the hearing of the main suit still pending before the Court of Appeal.
Other six members of the appeal panel also said the appeal lacked merit and reminded Amuda-Kannike that his integrity was at stake if he refused to withdraw the appeal.
One of the members of the appeal panel, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, told the lawyer that the Court of Appeal rightly dismissed Ardo’s application to join the suit as an appellant on the grounds that the leave of the court was not sought before applying to be joined.
The CJN also particularly frowned on the invitation at the counsel’s request on the apex court to hear the appeal on the merit of the main case still pending before the Court of Appeal.
Justice Mohammed said: “We can’t wear the shoe of the Court of Appeal. We cannot sit down here and decide on the merit of the main appeal which is still pending before the Court of Appeal.
“We don’t have the jurisdiction to do so. The constitution does not give us such power.”
He urged Amuda-Kannike to withdraw the suit so that the Court of Appeal could reach a decision on the matter.
The CJN said: “Allow the Court of Appeal to decide on the substantive suit. All of us, including your client, cannot be parties in a suit.
“One person can file the a suit on constitutional issue and the court will make a decision that will be beneficial to all.”
Amuda-Kannike who was on his feet throughout the proceedings, tried in futility to convince the apex court to hear the appeal.
Left with no other choice, he withdrew the appeal and in a unanimous ruling delivered by the CJN, the apex court “ dismissed” the appeal and thanked the lawyer for seeing “the need to allow the Court of Appeal to hear the substantive appeal.”
“However, we thank Dr. Amuda-Kannike for taking the bold step in the interest of justice and protection of the integrity of this noble profession,” the CJN added
Meanwhile the main appeal has been fixed for hearing before the Court of Appeal in Abuja on January 13, 2015.
The main appeal was filed by Mr. Cyriacus Njoku, to challenge the judgment of Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the Federal Territory High Court, which had dismissed his suit on the grounds that he lacked locus standi to institute the suit.
The appellant wants the court to disqualify Jonathan from seeking a re-election having previously taken the oath of the Office of the President twice.