Court adjourns suit challenging Akeredolu’s candidacy in Ondo poll

Court adjourns suit challenging Akeredolu’s candidacy in Ondo poll

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday adjourned until Nov. 20, hearing in a suit challenging the validity of the primary election that produced Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State as the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) candidate in the Oct. 10 polls. 

Justice Okon Abang who fixed the date, said that another date would be fixed for court to deliver judgment.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Dr Nath Adojutelegan, an APC governorship aspirant in the state election, filed the suit challenging the poll outcome.

The suit with number: /886/2020 was filed on Aug. 3 by Adojutelgan, who along with others, lost the APC primary election to Akeredolu.

In the suit, the plaintiff alleged that the exercise was marred by grave and substantial non-compliance with the spirit and purpose of the APC’s Constitution, Electoral Guidelines and the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), which he argued “substantially affected the outcome of the primary election.”

He said the delegates’ list used for the primary violated section 87(7) and (8) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), Article 20 (iii) and (iv) (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the APC Constitution 2014 (as amended) and Electoral Guidelines.

According to him, the list was unlawful and invalid on the grounds that it was filled with the names of principal officers of the wards, local governments, and state executive committees of the party in Ondo State, none of whom was democratically elected to be delegates at the primary as prescribed by the laws and regulations cited.

Adojutelgan urged the court to make an order nullifying the nomination of Akeredolu as the party’s candidate in the Oct. 10 governorship election in the state.

He also urged the court not to allow Akeredolu to gain from his alleged wrongdoings regarding the governorship primary election.

The plaintiff prayed the court to make an order nullifying the exercise and order a fresh primary from which the governor should not be allowed to participate in.

The APC, Akeredolu and INEC were joined as the 1st to the 3rd defendants respectively in the suit suit.

Earlier on Tuesday, the APC, represented by Mr Omosanya Popoola, and Akeredolu, who was represented by Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, had moved their separate notices of preliminary objection.

They urged the court to strike out the suit because it was statute-barred for not being filed within the timeframe from the time the cause of action arose as stipulated by Section 285(9) of the Constitution.

In addition, Popoola added that the plaintiff was bound by his undertaking in his expression of interest form submitted to the party that he would abide by the outcome of the primary election.

Olujinmi added that while Adojutelgan was participating in the primary election, he expressed in his application to APC not to challenge the outcome of the primary election, citing Exhibit Nat4.

“He went in for the election, hoping to win and gave that undertaking. Now he lost the primary election and he now turned back against his own undertaking. It is most unconscionable.

“The Supreme Court in Gana Vs PDP (2019) held emphatically that such and undertaking is binding, and that it was most unconscionable for such undertaking to be jettisoned,” he said.

INEC’s Lawyer, Abdulaziz Sani, did not file any notice of preliminary objection but said he would not oppose the ones filed by APC and Akeredolu.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Mr Isaac Aderogba, told the court that the argument of the defence lacked merit and urged the court to dismiss the separate notices of objection.

Aderogba also adopted his client’s substantive suit and urged the court to grant all the prayers contained in it.

But APC’s and Akeredolu’s lawyers also opposed the suit, urging the court to dismiss it.

When INEC’s lawyer was about to adopt his counter-afffidavit filed against the suit, he realised that he had to serve the document on the other parties.

He then sought an adjournment of the case to regularised his application.

Although Justice Abang had planned to conclude the hearing at the Tuesday sitting, he adjourned the matter due to the non-service of a counter-affidavit filed by INEC on other parties to the suit.

He therefore directed Sani to ensure the service of the counter-affidavit on the other parties within 48 hours.

The judge, who informed the lawyers representing the other parties that they could reply the counter-affidavit if they decided to do so, adjourned the matter until Nov. 20.