Confusion As Niger South Gets Two Senators

imageCredibility crisis has hit the senate over the swearing in of two different persons to represent a single senatorial district.
General Mohammed A. Garba and Malam Mustapha Sani Mohammed, who are both claiming to have won election under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), have been sworn in to represent Niger South Senatorial District.
It was learnt that General Garba was sworn in when the senate was inaugurated on June 9 while Malam Mustapha was sworn in last Wednesday by Senate President Bukola Saraki for the same seat.
Sources said Saraki was influenced by his associates to swear in Malam Mustapha for the post, even though General Garba is still the legal occupant of the seat.
But the senate president’s special adviser on legal and constitutional matters, Barrister Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi, said the confusion was caused by a lack of information from the judiciary.
Both General Garba and Malam Mustapha are currently at the appeals court claiming the seat. It was gathered that the dispute began over their candidacy in the APC from their constituency during the nomination for the contest of the senatorial seat.
Malam Mustapha was first nominated as the APC candidate, but when his membership of the party was challenged, his name was reportedly substituted with that of General Garba who was said to have won the general election and was sworn in at the senate’s inauguration.
Malam Mustapha has, however, challenged General Garba’s claim to the seat in court, insisting that he was the legally elected senator as he was the original nominee of the party.
It was further learnt that the case was still in court when Malam Mustapha was sworn in last Wednesday.
The swearing in of Malam Mustapha has now created a legal logjam as there is no court order declaring the seat of General Garba vacant.
The special adviser on legal and constitutional matters to Saraki said the senate was not given adequate information on the issue in good time and that the case is now being investigated.
Barrister El-Sudi said the office of the senate president was not aware that one person had been sworn in earlier for the same senatorial district.
“Before Mustapha was sworn in, we wrote to the Supreme and appeals courts, asking whether there was application on the senatorial district. The Supreme Court replied (to) our letter on the 7th August, the following day after we wrote to them,” he said.
“The Supreme Court said there was no any pending application, but the appeals court did not reply (to) our letter until on 12th of this month, just hours after Mustapha has been sworn in.
“It was the appeals court that told us that there was a pending application on the seat. We acted because we thought nothing was pending,” he said.
In a telephone interview, General Garba said he remained the authentic senator for the Niger South Senatorial District.
“It is true that Mustapha Mohammed won the primary election but it was nullified by the Federal High Court on the ground that he was not a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). So, the party made me the candidate.
“I contested the election and I defeated the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Zainab Kure. INEC declared the result in favour of my name.
“I was sworn in and I took the oath of office like other senators on June 9 when the senate was inaugurated. But Mohammed went to the appeals court and he secured a ruling that the Federal High Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the case that we should go to the State High Court,” he said.
But when contacted through text messages, Malam Mustapha said he travelled out of Abuja and declined a phone interview.
Efforts to get the reactions of the Clerk to the National Assembly Salisu Maikasuwa on the issue yielded no result as he neither picked his calls nor responded to the text message sent to him.

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