By Dayo Johnson
THE Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, Edo State has upheld the election of the Ondo State Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Taofiq Abdusalam and three other members of the Assembly. Abdusalam, a two term lawmaker represents Akoko North East constituency 11 area of the state.
Also, the election of two members of the House Representatives, the Vice Chairman of House Committee on Sports, Gbenga Elegbeleye, Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency, and Jones Akinyugha, Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency were upheld by the Court of Appeal. All the members of the State House of Assembly and the National Assembly are of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The three other members of the State House of Assembly are Henry Akinsuroju, Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo Constituency, Fatia Adekanye Adams, Akoko North West 11, and Kunle Agunbiade, Akure Constituency 11 .
The lower tribunal had earlier dismissed the election of the two National Assembly members, saying it was marred with irregularities. They proceeded to the Appeal Court and prayed that the Court of Appeal should set aside the decision of the lower tribunal.
However, the appeal against the election of the speaker was dismissed on the ground that his opponent in the election, Mr. Adeniran Adeyemo of Labour Party (LP) filed his petition at the lower court out of time required under section 141 of the 2006 Electoral Act.
The lower tribunal in Akure led by Justice Garba Nabaruma had earlier set aside the petition of the petitioner because it lacked merit and offended the provisions of the section of the Electoral Act.
In the petition involving Kunle Agunbiade, the Justice Nabaruma panel had dismissed the petition filed by Kunle Olujuyigbe of LP because he filed the petition five days after the time required under the law. The Court of Appeal in the lead Judgment read by Justice Adebisi Omoleye affirmed the decision of the lower tribunal.
The Labour Party candidate, Bimbo Fajolu contested the declaration of Henry Akinsuju of PDP as winner of the election by INEC as a member of the Assembly.
But the lower tribunal held that Fajoluâ€™s failure to file pre- trial notice 14 days after the conclusion of the petition and reply contravened section 3 paragraphs (1) (2) (3) and (4) of the Electoral Act and Practice Direction.
Fajolu after the verdict went to the appellate court asking it to set aside the decision of the lower tribunal, saying the case should be heard on merit instead of predicating it on technicalities.
However, instead of filing reply to the appeal, Akinsuroju through his counsel joined issue on the filing of the original petition out of time required under the Electoral Act.