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The court ruled that the suit challenging Ademola Adeleke as PDP’s governorship candidate in the Osun State governorship election is incompetent.

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, dismissed a suit challenging the nomination of the Osun State governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke, as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the recent governorship election poll in the state.

The judge, Obiora Egwuatu, in his judgement, struck out the case seeking Mr Adeleke’s disqualification as a candidate in the 16 July governorship poll for being “incompetent and lacking in merit.”

According to the judgement, the plaintiff, an aggrieved member of the PDP, Lukman Awoyemi, lacked the right to initiate legal action.

Mr Egwuatu held that the case having not been filed within the stipulated time allowed by law for a pre-election matter has become statute-barred and liable for dismissal.

In the suit marked FHC /ABJ/ CS/469/22, the plaintiff had asked the court to disqualify Mr Adeleke from participating in the 16 July governorship poll on the grounds that the submission of his nomination as the candidate of the PDP in the online portal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not fall within the stipulated time directed by the electoral umpire.

Defendants in the suit were INEC, PDP and Mr Adeleke.

Plaintiff’s argument

The plaintiff contended that the PDP sent Mr Adeleke’s nomination to the online portal of INEC on 11 March, days outside the 14 to 18 March period stipulated in the INEC guidelines for the conduct of the Osun State governorship election.

He argued that the action of the PDP violated INEC’s guidelines, and urged the court to set aside Mr Adeleke’s nomination as PDP’s governorship candidate.

Defendants’ submission

But delivering judgement in the case, the judge agreed with the submissions of the PDP and Mr Adeleke that the plaintiff (Mr Awoyemi) lacked the right to challenge the Osun State governor-elect’s nomination.

The defendants said Mr Awoyemi was not an aspirant in the governorship poll and not even a member of the PDP.

Mr Egwuatu also sided with the defendants that the plaintiff’s suit was statute-barred as it was filed 28 days after the cause of action arose.

The judge said the cause of action arose on 11 March when PDP submitted the nomination of Mr Adeleke to INEC’s online portal and not March 24, when INEC published the form EC9 of Adeleke.

While Section 285(9) of the Electoral Act provides that a plaintiff must lodge his case within 14 days of the cause of action, Mr Awoyemi filed his case on 7 April, clearly, 28 days from 11 March, which the court held was the date of the cause of action.

The judge accordingly struck out the suit for being incompetent.

This paper reported that INEC had on 17 July declared Mr Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the governorship election held in Osun State.

According to INEC chief returning officer for Osun, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, a professor and Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, the PDP candidate scored 403,371 votes to defeat the incumbent governor, Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who polled 375,027 votes.

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