A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed the suit challenging the validity of the July 20, 2020, primary election which produced Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the October 2020 election in the state.
Delivering judgment in the matter, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the suit filed by one Mrs Olajumoke Anifowose was statute-barred having been filed outside the 14 days allowed by law in a pre-election matter.
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.
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.”