Court Throws out Suit against Oyebanji’s Eligiblity, Says Process Defective
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti, yesterday struck out a suit filed by an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant , Mr. Kayode Ojo, challenging the victory of the Governor-elect, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji in the January 27, 2022 party’s primary.
The court upheld the preliminary objection of the counsel to Oyebanji, Mr. Kabir Akingbolu, that the writ of summons and statement of claims of Ojo were defective which dealt a fatal blow to the case.
Other defendants in the suit are the Independent National Electoral Commission (3rd), Ayo Adegbite (4th), Adeoye Aribasoye (5th), Vincent Bewaji (6th), Goke Olajide (7th), Lateef Akanle (8th), Richard Apolola (9th), Kayode Fasakin (10th), Adu Joseph (11th) and Teju Okuyiga (12th).
The rest defendants are Olumide Fadipe (13th), Dele Oloje (14th), Victor Adeniyi (15th), Folorunso Olabode (16th), Deji Ajayi (17th), Sunkanmi Onipede (18th), Kemi Olaleye (19th) and the Secretary and Members of the Ekiti APC 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Electoral Committee (20th), who were all local government returning officers.
The court in a judgment on Thursday delivered by Justice Babs Kuewumi agreed with Oyebanji’s counsel that the discrepancies in the originating processes had rendered the case academic.
Justice Kuewumi held that the names of counsel on the Plaintiff’s originating summons and statement and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stamp ran contrary which is against the law rendering the suit defective and incompetent.
While the name on the NBA stamp of one of the lawyers of Ojo reads “Moroof Bolanle,” the one that appears on the list of lawyers submitted for the case reads “Olayinka Bolanle.”
According to the judge, a further scrutiny on the Plaintiff’s writ of summons and statement of claim reveals two different signatures which renders the suit invalid ab initio.
“The signatures on the writ of summons and the statement of claim are not the same. There is no jurisdiction, there is no case. I will make copies of my judgment available to counsels tomorrow.
“Having ruled on the issue of objection, there is no further judgment to deliver. The Plaintiff is free to approach the higher court for appeal,” the judge held.
Earlier, the judge expressed appreciation to all counsels for their industry and cooperation as the matter was expeditiously heard and determined.
Counsel to the Ojo, Mr. Taiwo Ogunmoroti, had earlier urged the court to make the judgment available to him for perusal and any possible action.
But counsel to Oyebanji, Mr. Akingbolu, in a chat with reporters after the judgment was delivered, expressed satisfaction with the verdict which he said was in line with the law and the rules of the court.
Meanwhile, the plaintiff,Ojo, faulted the judgement, saying that, “the judge wrongly dismissed our case based on technicallity.
“Though, we believe in the santity of the court, but the judge erred in his judgement and we know the appeal court will correct the error.
“We want to appeal to Ekiti people and our teeming supporters to be patient, that the race is not for the swift, it is not a sprint, but marathon; that eventually justice will be served. We will meet at Appeal, court” .
He urged his supporters not to be deterred or wary with the presence of those that have nothing to do or offer in and around the court premises, calling on security agencies to do the needful by ensuring that law and order are maintained from time to time.
Dissatisfied with the conduct of the primary, Ojo approached the court to challenge what he called “gross irregularities” faulting the use of individuals he described as political appointees as electoral committee/returning officers.
According to the official result declared by the Chairman of the Ekiti APC 2022 Governorship Primary Election Committee, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, Oyebanji polled 101, 703 votes to defeat Ojo who came second with 767 votes.