Appeal Court dismisses suit filled against Ondo former Deputy Governor’s emergence as PDP candidate
The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, has dismissed the suit filed by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo against the candidature of former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Chief Alfred Agboola Ajayi as the Senatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Ondo South senatorial district of the state.
The Appellate Court affirmed Ajayi’s candidature on the basis that the case could not be heard on merit.
The court presided by Justice Ayobode Olujimi Lokulo-Sodipe dismissed the appeal filed by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo against the verdict that of Federal High Court that affirmed Ajayi as the candidate of the party for failure to file within time stipulated by the law.
Lokulo-Sodipe in his verdict affirmed the judgment of Justice Rilwanu Aikawa of the Federal High Court that dismissed the suit filed by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo challenging the emergence of Ajayi as the candidate of the PDP.
Tofowomo who scored 74 in the primary election was defeated by Ajayi who polled 78 in the keenly contested PDP primary to represent the South senatorial district.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the primary, Tofowomo through his counsel, Mr Femi Emodamori challenged the outcome of the primary election.
Tofowomo accused Ajayi of alleged act of perjury and education scandal. In a suit number: FHC/CS/AK/ 83 /2022 filed on July 5, 2022, the plaintiff prayed the court to nullify the former deputy governor nomination on the grounds that controversial academic records were presented by Ajayi for the election.
He said once the winner was declared as not qualified, the runner-up should be declared as winner.
But Ajayi, through his lawyer, Prof Kayode Olatoke SAN argued that the allegation of perjury against him is unfounded. He claimed that the school registrar as at the time he wrote his WAEC has sworn to an affidavit in 2006, to absolve him of the controversial error about his date of birth on his WAEC certificate.
Also, Ajayi argued that the case was filed outside the time allowed under the law, that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case and that it was a mere academic exercise and waste of court time.
Justice Aikawa in his verdict delivered on October said the Supreme Court in several decided cases held that the date of occurrence is to be used to determine the status of the case and not the date the plaintiff was aware of the infraction.
Justice Aikawa said the date of the occurrence of the cause of action was June 9, 2022 and the date the case was filed was July 5, 2022. He held that the case which supposed to be filed 14 days was filed after 26 after the cause of action. Justice Aikawa held that the case would not be heard on merit since it was filed outside the time allowed under 1999 constitution and the amended Electoral Act. He consequently dismissed the case.
Not satisfied with the verdict, Tofowomo challenged the judgment of the court and asked the appellate court to order for retrial of the case as the merit should take preeminence instead technicalities employed by the trial court.
The appellate court in his verdict dismissed the appeal of Tofowomo as the suit could not be heard on merit because the electoral act, practice direction and constitution stipulated the time within which such suit should be filed.
The appeal court said the failure of the appellant to key into the period stipulated by the law, which was clearly 14 days after the cause of action made the case and the appeal nugatory. He consequently dismissed the appeal with N250.000.00 fine.