From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A federal high court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed the suit challenging the validity of the primary election that produced Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State in the last gubernetorial election.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the suit filed by one Mrs Olajumoke Anifowose was statue-barred having been filled outside 14 days allowed by law for a pre-election matter.
The plaintiff in the suit specifically challenged the indirect primary election that produced Akeredolu as the nominated governorship candidate of APC.
She contended through her counsel, Mr Adesina Oke, that Section 87 of the Electoral Act and Article 20 of the APC constitution and other relevant election guidelines were violated in the primary election by the state executive committee and local government committees of the APC that conducted the primary election.
The plaintiff applied for an order of the court declaring the primary election as invalid and to bar the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Akeredolu as a governorship candidate.
She also prayed the court to prohibit the APC from submmiting Akeredolu’s name as its governorship candidate and Akeredolu from parading himself as a gubernatorial candidate.
Justice Ekwo, however, upheld the preliminary objection against the suit by Akeredolu and the APC who claimed that the court action is grossly incompetent since it was not filed withing 14 days required by law and, by that, that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Although Justice Ekwo noted that Akeredolu was nominated by the APC on July 20, 2020, and the plaintiff instituted the suit on July 29, 2020, which fell within 14 days stipulated by law, the suit, however, became incompetent due to the withdrawal of the initial originating summon and its substitution on August 20, 2020 by the plaintiff.
The court held that the substitution of the second originating summon was done outside 14 days required by law, and therefore became an invalid suit by the provision of section 285 of the 1999 Constitution.
‘Let me make it clear that a careful perusal of facts in this matter showed that the first defendant, Akeredolu was nominated on July, 20th, 2020, and the plaintiff came to court on July 29, 2020,’ the judge stated.
‘A new dimension however emerged when the plaintiff on August 20, 2020, substituted the originating summon of the July 29, with another one due to the error discovered in the first one that sued the office of the governor that did not participle in the disputed primary.
‘This substitution having not been done withing 14 days allowed by section 285 of the 1999 constitution makes this suit statue-barred and constitutionally dead.’
Justice Ekwo subsequently dismissed the suit on the ground that it was grossly incompetent to stand in the face of the law.