The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the suit filed by an aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the 2020 governorship election of Ondo state, Mrs Olajumoke Anifowose against the victory of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu‘s re-election.
Justice Inyang Ekwo delivered the judgement at the resumed hearing on Wednesday. Ekwo held that the application was statute-barred.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Akeredolu returned having polled 292, 830 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mr Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP, who scored 195, 791 votes at the October poll.
The plaintiff’s counsel, Mr Adesina Oke had filed the case over dissatisfaction of the indirect primary election that produced Akeredolu as the nominated governorship candidate of APC.
Anifowose argued that the election was conducted in violation of section 87 of the Electoral Act and Article 20 of the APC constitution and other relevant election guidelines of the party. Therefore, she prayed the court to declare the primary election invalid and withdraw the certificate of Return warded to Akeredolu.
However, Justice Ekwo said the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit since the case was not filed within 14 days required by law as pointed out by the defendants in their preliminary objection.
The court also 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.”
“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 Justice said.
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