The Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday fixed December 14 for judgment in a suit challenging the validity of the primary election that produced Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the October 10 poll.
Justice Okon Abang fixed the date after taking arguments from parties in the suit filed on August 3 by Dr. Nath Adojutelegan, an APC governorship aspirant in the state election.
In the suit, the APC, Gov. Akeredolu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are the first to third respondents respectively.
Adojutelegan, who along with others lost the primary election to Gov. Akeredolu, had challenged the poll’s outcome, 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.
He said the delegates’ list used for the primary violated section 87(7) and (8) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), Article 20 (iii) and (iv) (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the APC Constitution 2014 (as amended) and Electoral Guidelines.
Adojutelgan urged the court to make an order nullifying the nomination of Akeredolu as the party’s candidate in the Oct. 10 governorship election in the state.
He also urged the court not to allow Gov. Akeredolu to gain from his alleged wrongdoings regarding the governorship primary election and prayed the court to make an order nullifying the exercise, and order a fresh primary from which theAt the resumed hearing on Friday, the INEC lawyer, Abdulaziz Sani, on whose instance the case was adjourned at the last sitting told the court that he had finally served all the defendants as well as the plaintiff in the matter copies of his counter affidavit.
“I also ensured a copy was filed in court file. The counter -affidavit is filed on August 17. It is a twoparagraph application.It has one exhibit called exhibit INEC.
We have a written address dated August 14 and adopt same. Considering the nature of the dispute, we will only be bound by the court decision,” he said.
Counsel to the APC, Omosanya Popoola, said the plaintiff served him earlier in the day with the points of law in response to INEC’s counter affidavit.
Isaac Aderogba, the plaintiff ’s counsel, informed the court that he was served with a counter affidavit and written address by INEC on November 17 to which he replied on November 19, declaring that “we adopt the said reply and urge your lordship to enter judgment for the plaintiff.
”Popoola argued that in the plaintiff ’s reply, particularly paragraph 3.4 to 3.6, contended that INEC by its response had admitted that the primary in issue was conducted in open secret ballot.
“However, my position is that for an admission to be relied upon by the plaintiff, it must be unequivocal in all respect.He said the primary was conducted in open ballot and INEC said it was open secret ballot.
“That is what the plaintiff is saying that it is an admission of their position on the manner of the ballot.Our position is that it was a secret ballot,” he said.
Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), who is counsel to Gov. Akeredolu called the attention of the court to paragraph 3.5 of the plaintiff ’s (Adojutelegan) reply, stating that “the case made by the plaintiff is that instead of using secret ballot mode of election during the primary as provided by the constitution of the first defendant that they used an open ballot system.
Justice Abang in his ruling said the matter would be adjourned for judgment. He however, said that he would first make finding on the first and second defendants preliminary objections, challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter. “Where the objection sustains, that will be the end of this matter.
However, in the event the objections are overruled and I assumed jurisdiction, the court will then make findings on the substantive matter on its merit,” he held.
The judge then, adjourned the matter until December 14 for judgment.