Law News
Court removes APC’s House of Reps candidate in Ondo

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday removed Yejide Ogundipe as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the Odigbo/Ile-Oluji/Oke-Igbo Constituency in the House of Representatives slated to hold on Saturday.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to replace Ogundipe’s name with Festus Adefinraye.

The court held that Adefiranye was the right candidate of the party, having polled the highest number of votes in the primary conducted by the party.

Dismissing the preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit, Justice Kolawole held that by Section 87 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010, the Federal High Court was empowered to hear such electoral matter.

The court also held that the case could not be treated as an internal affair of the party since the proceedings of the appeal panel had been faulted.

The judge held, “Having listened to the submissions of all the counsel in the suit, it is obvious from the exhibit that the plaintiff was not present when the appeal panel was recounting the votes.

“Reading through APC guideline, there is no provision which empowers the appeal committee to recount. And even if it has the power, the principle of fair hearing should be employed by allowing the plaintiff to be there when they are recounting. The proceeding of the appeal committee is flawed.

“On jurisdiction, I do not agree with the issues canvassed by the defendants that court lacks jurisdiction to entertain this matter. Section 87(9) Electoral Act 2010 and S251 of the 1999 Constitution confer jurisdiction on the Federal High Court to hear electoral matter.

“All the grounds of objection did not persuade me. On the submission of the 2nd defendant to order pleadings, there is no dispute in the fact before the court to attract pleading. Doing this will not be justice”.

The court also faulted the decision of the party’s appeal panel to which the case had been earlier reported.

The court held, “The decision of the National Working Committee of the party, having its origin on the appeal panel report, cannot be trusted because it was based on a faulty foundation. I am more persuaded by the submissions of the plaintiff.

”The case of the plaintiff succeeds, all the reliefs sought are granted. The name of the first defendant shall be removed by the third defendant and be replaced by that of the plaintiff for the March 28 National Assembly elections.”

Adefinraye had filed the suit claiming that he won the primary but was surprised to discover that it was Ogundipe’s name who came second in the exercise that was forwarded to INEC.

Ogundipe, APC and INEC were the defendants in the suit.

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