The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed a suit challenging the validity of the July 20, 2020, primary election which produced Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as the All Progressives Congress’ candidate in the October 2020 election in the state.
Delivering judgment on the suit instituted by an APC governorship aspirant in Ondo State, Dr Nath Adojutelegan, Justice Okon Abang held that the case was statute-barred as it was not filed within 14 days of the arising of the cause of action.
The judge in upholding the notices of preliminary objection filed by Akeredolu and the APC held that from the facts presented by the plaintiff the crux of his grouse was about the use of the indirect mode of the primary election, which he objected.
He ruled that the plaintiff therefore ought to have filed his suit within 14 days from the day the electoral committee adopted the indirect mode of primary election on July 17, 2020.
He added that the suit filed on August 3, 2020 was clearly outside the 14 days period provided for in section 285(9) of the Constitution for the filing of pre-election matters.
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.
He ruled 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 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.
The judge, therefore, dismissed the suit without considering it on merit.
He awarded a total cost of N120,000 against the plaintiff in favour of the defendants.
The plaintiff was ordered to pay N50,000 to Akeredolu, N50,000 to the APC and N20,000 to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Adojutelgan vowed to challenge the judgment at the Court of Appeal.
He was part of the governorship aspirants who contested in the July 20, 2020, primary election which he and others lost to Akeredolu.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the July 22, 2020 primary election, the plaintiff, through his counsel, Isaac Aderogba, on August 3, 2020, filed the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/886/2020, alleging that the exercise was marred by grave and substantial non-compliance with the spirit and purpose of the APC’s Constitution, Electoral Guidelines and the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), which he argued “substantially affected the outcome of the primary election.”