Appeal Court Upholds Senator, Two House Members’ Elections in Ekiti

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Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

An Appeal Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti yesterday upheld the election that produced Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi of the All progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of Ekiti North Senatorial district election conducted on February 23.

The three-man appellate court dismissed the case filed by Senator Duro Faseyi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), claiming that the APC candidate didn’t score the highest number of lawful votes in the election.

In the same vein, the court struck out the suit filed by Hon. Kehinde Agboola of the PDP against the APC candidate, Hon. Peter Owolabi, in Ekiti North Federal Constituency 1, thereby affirming the APC’s candidate’s victory in the February 23 National Assembly polls.

Also, the court dismissed a case filed by Mr. Nicholas Olusola Omotoso of the PDP against the winner and APC candidate, Hon. Ibrahim Olanrewaju, in Ekiti North Federal Constituency II.

The crux of the of the three appeal cases was that the APC Senator and the two federal lawmakers did not score the highest number of lawful votes and that the ruling party didn’t conduct valid primaries, which presupposed that the party didn’t present candidates for the polls.

Delivering his judgement in the case filed against Adetumbi, Justice Hamma Akawu Barka said Faseyi acted like a busy body by trying to contest the outcome of the APC’s primaries, saying only those who participated in that primary could contest the outcome of party primary.

“By combined effects of Section 87(9) of the Electoral act and Section 285(14) of the 1999 Constitution, only aggrieved aspirants who participated in a primary can contest its outcome. Not just anybody. With this, the appellant lacks the locus standi to have filed this appeal in the first instance.

“Even if he has the locus, it has to be filed within 14 days after the conduct of the primary, so filing it outside that stipulated days rendered it statute barred.

“Apart from this, it is only the state High Court, Federal High Court and the Federal Capital Territory High Court that can entertain such issue that emanated from the conduct of any primary, so we lack the jurisdiction to entertain this case.

“Looking at all the exhibits tendered, there was no sufficient evidence to prove a case of substantial non-compliance against the respondent. So, this case lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed,” Justice Barka said.

Delivering the judgement on the appeal filed by Omotoso against Olanrewaju, Justice Uzo Ndukwe Anyanwu said exhibit 3(1) being the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the APC primary relied on to prosecute the suit was supposed to be tendered by INEC official and not through the bar.

“We expected the appellant to call the maker of the document, so that he can be cross examined but rather, he dumped it on the court and this makes it lacks probative value and the case lacks merit based on this ground having not called the maker. The document was rendered useless by this action,” said Justice Anyanwu.

Justice Alfrieda Oluwayemisi Williams-Daudu adopted the foregoing position in the appeal filed by Owolabi against Owolabi’s victory.

Reacting, the lawyer to the respondents, Chief Rafiu Balogun, said he was not surprised that the appeals were dismissed, saying they lacked the requisite merits in the first instance.

“We are not surprised at the verdicts of the Justices of the Court of Appeal. We salute their industry and commend them for being painstaking in dealing with the issues raised,” he added.