The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, dismissed a suit that challenged the primary election that produced Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in the last gubernatorial election in Ondo State.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Iyang Ekwo, held that the legal action which was instituted by one Mrs Olajumoke Anifowose was statute-barred.
Justice Ekwo held that the suit was brought outside the statutory 14 days period the law allowed for the commencement of a pre-election matter.
The court noted that the cause of action in the suit, which was Akeredolu’s nomination by the APC, occurred on July 20, 2020.
It observed that though the Plaintiff lodged a suit against Akeredolu’s nomination on July 29, which was within the 14 days period, she later withdrew the initial Originating Summons and substituted it with another one on August 20, 2020.
The court held that since the substitution was done outside the 14 days period prescribed by law, the suit became invalid by virtue of the provision of section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Justice Ekwo, therefore, upheld a preliminary objection that governor Akeredolu filed to query the legal competence of the suit.
According to the Judge: “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.”
“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 within 14 days allowed by section 285 of the 1999 constitution, makes this suit statued barred and constitutionally dead”.
The Plaintiff, Mrs Anifowose had in the suit that was dismissed by the court, challenged the indirect primary election that produced Akeredolu as flag-bearer of the APC in the Ondo governorship election.
She contended that both the State Executive Committee and Local Government Committees of the party, violated section 87 of the Electoral Act and Article 20 of the APC Constitution, as well as other relevant election guidelines, in the conduct of the indirect primary election.
The Plaintiff, therefore, applied for an order of the court declaring the primary election as invalid.
She equally urged the court to bar the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognising Akeredolu as the valid governorship candidate of the APC in the state.
Besides, the Plaintiff, further prayed the court to restrain the APC from submitting Akeredolu’s name as its governorship candidate, as well as an order barring the governor from parading himself as APC’s candidate.
Justice Justice Ekwo held that objections Akeredolu and APC raised against the suit had merit and deserved to succeed.