The Court of Appeal sitting in Ado Ekiti has upheld the election of Sen. Olubunmi Adetumbi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who won the Ekiti North Senatorial District seat.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that the three-man appellate court dismissed the appeal filed by Sen. Duro Faseyi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Faseyi had appealed the verdict of the election petition tribunal that upheld the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) declaration of Adetumbi as winner of the Ekiti North Senatorial seat in Feb. 23 National Assembly election.
Also, the Appellate Court struck out the suit filed by Mr Kehinde Agboola of the PDP and affirmed the victory of Mr Peter Owolabi of the APC as the winner of Ekiti North Federal constituency (1) seat in Feb. 23 National Assembly polls.
Similarly, the Court also dismissed another case filed by Mr Nicholas Olusola Omotoso of the PDP against the winner and APC candidate, Mr Ibrahim Olanrewaju, representing Ekiti North Federal Constituency (II).
The crux of the three appeal cases were that the APC Senator and the two Federal lawmakers did not score the highest number of lawful votes, and that the ruling party did ‘not conduct valid primaries, which presupposed that the party did not present candidates for the polls.
Delivering his judgment on the case filed against Senator Adetumbi, Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, said the PDP candidate, Senator Faseyi, acted like a busy body by trying to contest the outcome of the APC’s primaries.
” 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 had the locus, it had 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 issues 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”, the appeal court Justice said.
Also delivering judgment on the appeal filed by Nicholas Omotoso, Justice Uzo Ndukwe Anyanwu, said exhibit 3(1), the report of 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 lack probative value and the case lacks merit based on this ground having not called the maker.
“The document was rendered useless by this action,” Anyanwu said.
On the third case, Justice Alfrieda Oluwayemisi Williams-Daudu also adopted the foregoing position in the appeal filed by Kehinde Agboola of the PDP against the victory of Peter Owolabi of the APC in Ekiti North Federal constituency I.
Reacting to the judgment, 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 Appeal Justices. We salute their industry and commend them for being painstaking in dealing with the issues raised”, he added.