Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging the validity of the All Progressives Congress primary which produced Rotimi Akeredolu, as APC candidate for the October 10, 2020, Ondo State Governorship Election.
Delivering judgement on the suit, on Wednesday, Justice Iyang Ekwo held that the case instituted by Olajumoke Anifowose, was not filed within 14 days as was required for pre-election matters.
The plaintiff, had in the suit filed on her behalf, by her lawyer, Adesina Oke, challenged the indirect mode adopted by the APC for the conduct of the primary which Akeredolu won.
According to her, Section 87 of the Electoral Act and Article 20 of the APC constitution were violated by the party’s State Executive Committee and Local Government Committee while conducting the exercise.
She prayed the court to grant an order invalidating the primary election. Anifowose also prayed the court to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission from recognising Akeredolu as APC candidate for the said election.
The plaintiff equally prayed the court to prohibit APC from submitting Akeredolu’s name to INEC and that it should also grant an order barring Akeredolu from parading himself as the APC gubernatorial candidate.
Ekwo said, “Let me make it clear that a careful perusal of facts in this matter showed that the first defendant, Akeredolu, was nominated on July, 20, 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 participate in the disputed primary.
“This substitution having not been done within 14 days allowed by Section 285 of the 1999 constitution, makes this suit statute barred and constitutionally dead.” He subsequently dismissed the suit.
Responding to the judgement, the plaintiff in the suit, Mrs Jumoke Anifowoshe, vowed to appeal the ruling.
Anifowose, who is the daughter of the first executive governor of the state, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, while reacting to the judgment in Akure, said, “I did not file out of time. It’s an issue to be determined by the Court of Appeal. To me, the judgement is a ridiculous one.”
Meanwhile, the Ondo State chapter of the APC welcomed the judgement describing it as a victory for democracy and the rule of law.
The state chairman of the party, Mr Ade Adetimehin while welcoming the verdict cautioned aggrieved party members against going to court without first exhausting the internal conflict resolution mechanisms of the party.
He said, “The party is very serious about the issue of discipline and would therefore not take lightly any act of indiscipline, and disregard for party rules and interest.
“Again I want to appeal to those instituting litigation against the party and its candidate to back down in the interest of the state and her people.”