Court dismisses suit challenging Akeredolu’s emergence
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit that challenged the emergence of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last governorship election held in Ondo State.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment on Wednesday, held that the suit filed by Mrs. Olajumoke Anifowoshe was statute barred on the grounds that being a pre-election matter, it was filed outside the 14 days provided in Section 185(9) of the Constitution.
The plaintiff, in the suit filed on her behalf by her counsel, Adesina Oke, had challenged the indirect primary election that produced Akeredolu as the nominated governorship candidate of the APC.
Mrs Anifowose contended 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 committee that conducted the primary election.
She, therefore, applied for an order of the court declaring the primary election as invalid and to also bar the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Akeredolu as a governorship candidate.
The plaintiff also prayed the court to stop the APC from submitting Akeredolu’s name as its governorship candidate and Akeredolu from parading himself as a gubernatorial candidate of the party.
Justice Ekwo, in his judgement, upheld the preliminary objection filed against the suit by Akeredolu and APC who claimed that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit, which he noted was incompetent as it was not filed within the 14 days required by law.
Although Justice Ekwo noted that Akeredolu was nominated by APC on July 20, 2020, and the plaintiff filed the suit on July 29, which fell within 14 days stipulated by law and that 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 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
The judge said: “Let me make it clear that a careful perusal of the facts in this matter showed that the first plaintiff, Akeredolu, was nominated on July, 20th, 2020, and the plaintiff came to court on July 29, 2020.
“A new dimension 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.
“This substitution, having not been done within 14 days allowed by Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution makes this suit statue-barred.”