By Uche Amunike
The Osun State Governor-Elect, Ademola Adeleke has been vindicated as the Federal High Court in Abuja, Thursday, dismissed a suit challenging his nomination as the candidate of the PDP in the recent governorship election held in the state.
In his judgment, the Judge, Obiora Egwuatu struck out the case seeking for Adeleke’s disqualification as a gubernatorial candidate in the election of July 16, 2022, describing it as ‘lacking in merit.’
According to the judgment, the plaintiff, Lukman Awoyemi, who is an aggrieved member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had no right to seek legal action.
The judge, Egwuatu, stated that the case was not filed within the stipulated time that was permitted by law for a pre-election matter and as such, has become statute-barred and liable for dismissal.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/469/22 the plaintiff demanded that Ademola Adeleke is disqualified from participating in the July 16 governorship election on the grounds that at the time he submitted his nomination as the PDP candidate in the online portal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the electoral umpire hadn’t given the go-ahead for submission.
The defendants in the suit were PDP, INEC and Ademola Adeleke.
The plaintiff argued that the PDP forwarded Mr Adeleke’s nomination to the INEC online portal on March 11, whereas March 14-18 was the period stipulated in the INEC guidelines for the conduct of the Osun State governorship election.
He also contended that by so doing, the PDP violated the guidelines given by INEC and pleaded with the court to set aside Mr Adeleke’s nomination as the PDP gubernatorial candidate.
While delivering judgement in the case, however, Judge Obiora Egwuatu agreed with the submissions of the PDP and Mr Adeleke that the plaintiff, Mr Lukman Awoyemi had no right to challenge the nomination of the Osun State Governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke.
The defendants said that Mr Lukman Awoyemi was neither an aspirant in the Guber poll, nor a member of the PDP and therefore had no right to challenge Adeleke’s candidature.
He also agreed with the defendants that the plaintiff’s suit was statute-barred, having been filed 28 days after the cause of action arose, specifically on March 11, when the PDP submitted Adeleke’s nomination to INEC’s online portal, and not March 24 when the electoral umpire published Adeleke’s form EC9.
Even though Section 285(9) of the Electoral Act states that a plaintiff must lodge his case within 14 days of the cause of action, Awoyemi filed his case in April 7, which was 28 days from March 11, which, according to the court, was the date of the cause of action. This made the judge strike out the suit on the grounds of incompetence.
Recall that INEC declared Ademola Adeleke of the PDP as winner of the gubernatorial election. He scored 403,371 votes to defeat the incumbent Gboyega Oyetola of the APC who scored 375,072 votes.