A Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti has struck out a suit filed by a contestant in the January 27 All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary, Kayode Ojo, challenging the victory and nomination of the Governor-elect, Biodun Oyebanji by the All Progressives Congress.
Dissatisfied with the conduct of the primary, Ojo had approached the court to challenge what he called “gross irregularities” faulting the use of individuals he described as political appointees as an electoral committee/returning officers, urging the court to nullify the entire shadow exercise.
The court, on Thursday, upheld the preliminary objection of the counsel to Oyebanji, Kabir Akingbolu, that the writ of summons and statement of claims of Ojo were defective which dealt a fatal blow to the case.
The court in a judgment on Thursday delivered by the presiding judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi, threw out Ojo’s case and agreed with Oyebanji’s counsel that the discrepancies in the originating processes had rendered the case academic.
Justice Kuewumi held that the names of counsel on the Plaintiff’s originating summons and statement and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stamp ran contrary which is against the law rendering the suit defective and incompetent, regardless of the merit of the case.
While the name on the NBA stamp of one of the lawyers of Ojo reads “Moroof Bolanle,” the one that appears on the list of lawyers submitted for the case reads “Olayinka Bolanle.”
According to the judge, further scrutiny of Plaintiff’s writ of summons and statement of the claim reveals two different signatures which render the suit invalid ab initio.
“The signatures on the writ of summons and the statement of claim are not the same. There is no jurisdiction, there is no case. I will make copies of my judgment available to counsels on Friday.
“Due to the irregularities in the identity of the lawyers who filed 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 anything, which therefore renders the entire suit as a mere academic exercise. I hereby strike out the suit.
“Having ruled on the issue of the objection, there is no further judgment to deliver. The Plaintiff is free to approach the higher court for appeal,” Justice Kuewunmi said.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Taiwo Ogunmoroti, who had earlier urged the court to make the judgment available to him for perusal and any possible action, declined to speak with newsmen after the court ruling.
But counsel to Oyebanji, Akingbolu, after the judgment was delivered, expressed satisfaction with the verdict which he said was in line with the law and the rules of the court.
Akingbolu said: “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.
“What the court is saying is that whatever you put on it cannot stand. You cannot build a castle in the air, it is not just possible.”
Meanwhile, the governor-elect in a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Raheem Akingbolu and made available to journalists in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday, shortly after the court judgement, described the ruling as a landmark judgement which will put to rest the controversies surrounding the January 27 APC primaries.
He also called on Ojo and others “who might have issues with the outcome of the January 27 primaries of the party to sheath their swords and work with the in-coming administration in the onerous task of developing the state.
“I congratulate the judiciary for living up to expectation as the last hope of the common man. I also appreciate my brother, Engr Kayode Ojo for approaching the court for the determination of the matter, instead of resorting to self-help.
“Now that the Court has ruled and affirmed my candidacy, I urge my brother, Engr Ojo and all others who might have issues with the outcome of the January 27 primaries of our party to join hands with us in the task of building a more prosperous Ekiti State.”
However, Ojo in a swift reaction faulted the judgement, saying that, “the judge wrongly dismissed our case based on a technicality.
According to him, “Though, we believe in the sanctity 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. We will meet at appeal.”