Tony Osauzo, Benin
The election of Peter Akpatason as the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akoko-Edo federal constituency which was affirmed by the National Assembly Primaries Election Appeals Committee headed by former governor of Edo State, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor, has been nullified by the Court of Appeal, sitting in Benin City.
The Court declared the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Kabiru Adjoto as the candidate of the party for Akoko-Edo federal constituency.
Adjoto had approached the appellate court claiming that he won the party’s primary election but was denied the ticket and that the lower court did not give him justice.
But delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Moore Abraham-Adumein on behalf of Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, the presiding judge and Justice Tunde Efotoye, said the trial court ought to have heard the case brought before it since it was its duty to do so.
He lamented that “the trial court for reasons best known to it, failed or neglected to make any pronouncement on the live issue before it.”
The court held that the Osunbor committee was not properly constituted because the committee contravened Article 21 B of the APC guidelines which says “no member of the five-member appeal committee shall be from the state of assignment,” and so the committee abinitio ought not to hear the case.
It further held that referring the case back to the trial court would have been statute barred and that having considered the evidence before the lower court which it did not consider, Adjoto won the primary election as the returning officer during the election, Hon Sufiyanu Igbafe, declared that Adjoto scored 7,034 votes as against his opponent, Honourable Peter Akpatason who scored 5,606 votes.
“This appeal is hereby unanimously allowed and the prayers sought by the appellant in the trial court are hereby granted and the sum of N300,000 is hereby awarded as cost against the 1st and 2nd respondents,” the court said.
Reacting to the judgment, Counsel to Akpatason, Omoh-Ige Adebayo, said they would contest the judgment at the Supreme Court.
On his part, an elated Adjoto said: “The judiciary is not only the last hope of the common man but also of the big man,” and promised to give more representation to his people more than he had given in the state House of Assembly.