By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, dismissed a suit that sought to invalidate the primary election that produced Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the governorship election that held in Ondo state on October 10, 2020.
The court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Okon Abang, held that the suit which was filed by an APC governorship aspirant in the state, Dr Nath Adojutelegan, was statute barred.
Justice Abang noted that the Plaintiff failed to approach the court to challenge the validity of the governorship primary election APC held in the state on July 20, within 14 days after the cause of action arose.
The court upheld preliminary objections that were filed by both governor Akeredolu and the APC, stressing that since the crux of the Plaintiff’s grouse was that the party ignored his protestations and adopted indirect mode of primary election, he ought to have filed the suit within 14 days from July 17 when the said primary held.
Relying on section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the court held that the suit which was entered on August 3, was statute barred having been filed out of time.
Besides, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the Plaintiff’s case against the list of delegates compiled in 2018 and used for the primary election in July 2020.
It held 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.
Justice Abang held 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 primary election.
He said the suit was a mixture of non-justiciable issues and pre-primary election matters that the court lacked the power to entertain.
Consequently, the court dismissed the suit and awarded a total cost of N120,000 against the Plaintiff and in favour of the Defendants.
The court specifically ordered the Plaintiff to pay N50,000 each to governor Akeredolu and the APC, as well and N20,000 to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.