A FEDERAL High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit that sought to void the emergence of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last governorship election in Ondo State.
The plaintiff, an APC governorship aspirant, who participated in the primary election but lost – Nathaniel Adojutelegan – had challenged the party’s adoption of indirect mode of primary for the selection of its candidate for the election.
In a judgment on Wednesday, Justice Okon Abang upheld the arguments by the APC and Akeredolu (listed as the first and second defendants) in their objections that the suit was statute barred, having been filed outside the 14 days allowed under Section 285(9) of the Constitution, for the institution of pre-election cases.
Justice Abang noted that while the cause of action arose on July 17, 2020 when the APC’s Election Committee, headed by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, announced the adoption of indirect primary, Adojutelegan chose to file his suit on August 3.
The judge, who also held that part of the issues raised in the suit were not justiciable, being pre-primary matters, relating to the internal affairs of the APC.
The judge also ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiff’s challenge against the list of delegates compiled in 2018 and used for the primary election in July 2020.
Justice Abang said that such an issue was a pre-primary election matter and not a pre-election matter that could be accommodated under Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act.
He added that the fact that the list of delegates was used for the primary election while a suit challenging its validity was pending before a court in Akure, was part of the recoginised grounds for challenging the outcome of a party primary election.
The judge noted that the suit was a mixture of non-justiciable issues and pre-primary election matters that the court lacked the power to entertain.
He dismissed the suit and awarded cost of N120,000 against the plaintiff in favour of the defendants.
The judge ordered the plaintiff to pay N50,000 to Akeredolu, N50,000 to the APC and N20,000 to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
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