Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has set aside the judgment of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which had declared that under Section 177(d) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, Senator Ademola Adeleke was ineligible to contest the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State.
The trial court had premised its decision on the grounds that Adeleke forged the secondary school credentials he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the country’s election monitor, in 2018.
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But the appellate court, in an unanimous judgment of its three-man panel, upheld the appeal by Adeleke and his political platform, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Justice Emmnuel Agim, who read the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, awarded the sum of N3 million against the plaintiffs who instituted the suit before the Bwari division of the FCT High Court – Wahab Raheem and Adam Habeeb – who were respondents to the appeals filed by Adeleke and the PDP.
In their separate appeals, Adeleke and PDP had challenged the April 2 judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, delivered by Justice Othman Musa, who further declared Adeleke a dropout of the Ede Muslim Grammar School in Ede, Osun State.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, who delivered the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, held that the suit, having not been filed within 14 days after Adeleke’s Form CF001 was submitted to INEC, or 14 days after his name was published as a candidate in the September 2018 election, by virtue of Section 285 of the Constitution, had become statute-barred
Justice Agim also held that the failure of the FCT High Court to deliver its verdict within 60 days of the filing of the suit had rendered the lower court’s judgment a nullity
The Court of Appeal also held the affidavit evidence of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and result ledger attached to it showing that Adeleke was not a dropout but actually sat for the May 1981 examination of the body at Muslim Grammar School, Ede.
Accordingly, the court allowed the appeal and awarded cost against the respondents.