The Court of Appeal in Abuja has set aside the April 2, 2019 judgment by Justice Othman Musa of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which voided Ademola Adeleke’s candidacy in the last governorship election in Osun State on the grounds that he was not qualified, having not possessed valid secondary school certificate.
A three-man panel of the court, held in a unanimous judgment yesterday, that the FCT High Court was wrong to have concluded that Adeleke did not complete Secondary School and that he made false representation as regard his educational qualification.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, in the lead judgment, faulted the trial court for assuming jurisdiction over the case, which he said was filed by Wahab Raheem and Adam Habeeb outside the 14 days prescribed for pre-election cases by the constitution.
Justice Agim said the case was statute barred, the plaintiffs having not complied with Section 285 of the Constitution in the filing of the case and the trial judge, having failed to deliver its judgment within 180 days.
The judge faulted the conclusion by the trial judge that the suit was not pre-election case.
He said a suit for a declaration that the information provided by a candidate in Form CF001 was false and that he be disqualified was a pre-election matter.
Justice Agim held that, being a pre-election matter, the suit ought to have been filed within 14 days from the day of the occurrence of the event complained about and judgment given within 180 days, as provided in Section 285 (9) and (10) of the constitution.
He noted that the giving of the information to INEC occurred when the CF001 of the appellant was submitted on July 24, 2018.
“So, the event or action complained of occurred on July 24, 2018. So, the 14 days period, within which the suit ought to have been filed, expired on August 6, 2018. But this suit was filed on September 4, 2018,” the judge said.
He noted that even if the 1st and 2nd respondents (Raheem and Habeeb) became aware of the said information on 4th of August, 2018 when it was published in the newspaper, it would have still been out of time when the 14 days is calculated from the date the suit was filed.
“Therefore, the suit is statute barred. The trial court had no jurisdiction to have heard the case,” Justice Agim said.
He proceeded to void the entire proceedings and judgment given by Justice Musa on April 2, 2019, which he said was delivered 209 days after the suit was filed, as against the required 180 days.
Justice Agim held that the trial court was in error to have assumed jurisdiction over a case that relate to the dispute over a candidate’s qualification to contest election to the governorship of Osun State.
He held that the trial court was without the requisite territorial/geographical jurisdiction to have entertained the case.
Justice Agim agreed with Adeleke that the trial court failed to properly consider and evaluate all the evidence brought before it.
The judge noted that the trial court ignored the affidavit by the West African Examination Council (WAEC), in which it displayed Adeleke’s WAEC result, adding that the documents tendered by WAEC, upon an order of the trial court, had resolved the dispute about whether or not Adeleke had WAEC result.
He added that the holding by the trial court, that the copy of the result tendered by Adeleke contained elements of fakeness, was perverse.
The judge added: “It is curious that the trial High Court that ordered the production of WAEC result chose to ignore it.
“This wrong approach made it (the trial court) to reach a wrong conclusion about the veracity of the information in the statement of results provided by Adeleke.”
Justice Agim said it was wrong for the High Court of the FCT to pronounce that Adeleke was not qualified to contest the governorship election when a High Court in Osun State had, in an earlier judgment, held that he (Adeleke) was qualified.
He said since the judgment of the High Court of Osun State had resolved the issue of Adeleke’s qualification and held that he met the qualification requirement in Section 177(d) of the Constitution, the FCT High Court has no jurisdiction to review the issue of qualification decided by the Osun High Court.
Source: The Nation NG
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