The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday adjourned until November 20, hearing 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 polls.
Justice Okon Abang, who fixed the date, said that another date would be fixed for court to deliver judgment.
An APC governorship aspirant in the state election, Dr. Nath Adojutelegan, filed the suit on August 3 challenging the poll outcome.
In the suit, the plaintiff alleged that the primary election was marred by grave and substantial noncompliance with the spirit and purpose of the APC’s constitution, electoral guidelines and the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), which he argued affected the outcome of the primary election.
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.
According to him, the list was unlawful and invalid on the grounds that it was filled with the names of principal officers of the wards, local governments, and state executive committees of the party in Ondo State, none of whom was democratically elected to be delegates at the primary as prescribed by the laws and regulations cited.
Adojutelgan urged the court to make an order nullifying the nomination of Gov. Akeredolu as the party’s candidate in the October 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.
The plaintiff prayed the court to make an order nullifying the exercise and order a fresh primary from which the governor should not be allowed to participate in.
The APC, Gov. Akeredolu and INEC were joined as the first to the third defendants respectively in the suit.
Earlier on Tuesday, the APC, represented by Mr. Omosanya Popoola, and Gov. Akeredolu, who was represented by Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN) had moved their separate notices of preliminary objection.
They urged the court to strike out the suit because it was statute-barred for not being filed within the time frame from the time the cause of action arose as stipulated by Section 285(9) of the constitution.
In addition, Popoola added that the plaintiff was bound by his undertaking in his expression of interest form submitted to the party that he would abide by the outcome of the primary election.
Olujinmi added that while Adojutelgan was participating in the primary election, he expressed in his application to the APC not to challenge the outcome of the primary election.
“He went in for the election, hoping to win and gave that undertaking. Now he lost the primary election and he now turned back against his own undertaking. It is most unconscionable.
“The Supreme Court in Gana versus PDP (2019) held emphatically that such an undertaking is binding, and that it was most unconscionable for such undertaking to be jettisoned,” he said.
INEC’s Lawyer, Abdulaziz Sani, did not file any notice of preliminary objection, but said he would not oppose the ones filed by the APC and Gov. Akeredolu.
The plaintiff ’s lawyer, Mr. Isaac Aderogba, told the court that the arguments of the defence lack merit and urged the court to dismiss the separate notices of objection.
Aderogba also adopted his client’s substantive suit and urged the court to grant all the prayers contained in it.
But, APC’s and Gov. Akeredolu’s lawyers also opposed the suit, urging the court to dismiss it.
When INEC’s lawyer was about to adopt his counter-affidavit filed against the suit, he realised that he had to serve the document on the other parties.
He then sought an adjournment of the case to regularise his application.
Although, Justice Abang had planned to conclude the hearing at Tuesday sitting, he adjourned the matter due to the non-service of a counter-affidavit filed by INEC on other parties to the suit.
He therefore, directed Sani to ensure the service of the counter-affidavit on the other parties within 48 hours.
The judge, who informed the lawyers representing the other parties that they could reply the counter-affidavit if they decide to do so, adjourned the matter until November 20.