By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Monday, dismissed a suit that sought to nullify the victory of Ogun State Governor-elect, Mr. Adedapo Abiodun, following an allegation that he lied about his educational qualifications.
Abiodun who won the March 9 governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was accused of lying on oath about his qualifications in the Form CF001 he used to secure clearance from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
A constitutional lawyer and member of the APC in the state, Mr. Abdulrafiu Baruwa had before the election, lodged a suit before an Abuja High Court wherein he sought an order for Abiodun to be removed as the flag-bearer of the party.
The Plaintiff alleged that the governor-elect who had earlier claimed to possess two University degrees, did not undertake the one year compulsory National Youth Service Scheme.
He told the court that whereas Abiodun had in an affidavit he swore to at the high court, Abeokuta, Ogun State, in 2015 when he contested for the Senate, claimed to have attended the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (graduating in 1986) and Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and also supplied same information to INEC.
It was alleged that the 2nd defendant (Abiodun), in a fresh affidavit he deposed for the purpose of the 2019 governorship election, declared only the West African School Certificate he obtained in 1978, as his only qualification in the Form CF001 he submitted to INEC on October 23, 2018.
He was said to have declared the affidavit before a High Court of the Federal Capital Terrritory.
The Plaintiff alleged that Abiodun’s reliance on only his WAEC was owing to the fact that the veracity of the two Degree Certificates he claimed to posses in 2015, was being questioned, including his participation in the mandatory NYSC scheme.
He therefore posed six questions for the determination of the court, among which included: “Whether having regard to the unambiguous provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), a candidate sponsored by a political party is not under an obligation to make full disclosure of all his educational qualifications as demanded by INEC in the prescribed Form CF 001?
However, the high court, in a judgment by Justice Kayode Adeniyi, dismissed the on technicalities, stressing that it was caught by section 285(9) in the 4th Alteration of the 1999 Constitution, which allowed 14 days for filing of pre-election matters.
Dissatisfied with the decision, the Plaintiff took the case to the Court of Appeal, where he also lost on the same ground.
In a unanimous judgement, a three-member panel presided by Justice Datti Yahaya, held the matter had become statute barred.
The appellate court upheld the high court’s verdict and dismissed the case as lacking in merit.