A Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti Division, on Thursday struck out a suit filed by an All Progressives Congress governorship aspirant in the January 27 primary in Ekiti State, Kayode Ojo, challenging the emergence of the governor-elect, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, as the party candidate.
Ojo, dissatisfied with the conduct of the APC governorship primary, had approached the court, urging it to nullify what he called “gross irregularities” in the exercise.
He also faulted the use of individuals he described as political appointees as electoral committee/returning officers and consequently ordered a fresh primary.
But APC and Oyebanji, who were first and second defendants in the suit, averred that the direct primary held in all the 177 wards in the state were valid and in compliance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), and the constitution and guidelines of the party.
While Ojo’s counsels urged the court to uphold their statement of claims and grant them the reliefs being sought, counsels to Oyebanji said that the suit was not competent, saying that the discrepancies in the originating processes had rendered the case academic.
Delivering judgment, Justice Babs Kuewumi, who 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, threw out the case.
Justice Kuewumi said, “Due to the irregularities in the identity of the lawyers who filled the processes, the case is defective and terribly bad. As the Bible says, when the foundation is bad what can the righteous do? We must know you can’t put something on nothing, which therefore renders the entire suit as a mere academic exercise. I hereby strike out the suit.
“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.”
Counsel to Oyebanji, Akingbolu, expressed satisfaction with the verdict, saying, “Before a process is filed in court, a known lawyer must sign, it but many lawyers subscribed to this originating process but there was only one signature. The law is that you must tick the name of the person who signed it and this was not done in this case.
“Again, the NBA seal, which is the authority of office for a lawyer to signal document was affixed but the name on the seal was different from the one on all the process.
“So, there was no way the court could determine whether it was signed by a clerk or whether it was signed by a street urchin or a lawyer. On the ground, the court has rightly thrown away the case and the whole thing has crumbled.”
However, Ojo rejected the judgment, saying, “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.”