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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ekiti governorship primary: Anxiety as appeal court reserves judgement

Victor Akinkuolie
Ado-Ekiti

The Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti Division, has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by one of the contestants in the January 27, 2022, Ekiti State All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election, Mr. Kayode Ojo, challenging the victory of the Governor-elect, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji.

The appeal brought by Ojo was heard at the court’s sitting in Ado-Ekiti, on Tuesday with parties in the appeal adopting processes filed including Motions on Notice, Briefs of Argument and Preliminary Objections, among others.

The presiding judge, Justice M.A Adumein, after lawyers to parties in the appeal had adopted their processes and argued their briefs, adjourned for judgment on a date expected to be communicated to parties later.

Oyebanji through his counsel, Mr. Yakubu Mikyau (SAN) and the APC through its counsel, Mr. Shaibu Aruwa (SAN), whose brief was argued by Titilayo Precious Soje, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking merit and for being incompetent.

Counsel to Ojo, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) urged the court to allow the appeal and grant all the reliefs sought by his client maintaining that the lower court was wrong to have struck out the suit without looking into the merit of the case.

Respondents in the appeal are the APC (1st), Oyebanji (2nd), Ayo Adegbite (4th), Adeoye Aribasoye (5th), Vincent Bewaji (6th), Goke Olajide (7th), Lateef Akanle (8th), Richard Apolola (9th), Kayode Fasakin (10th), Adu Joseph (11th) and Teju Okuyiga (12th).

The remaining Respondents are Olumide Fadipe (13th), Dele Oloje (14th), Victor Adeniyi (15th), Folorunso Olabode (16th), Deji Ajayi (17th), Sunkanmi Onipede (18th), Kemi Olaleye (19th) and the Secretary and Members of the Ekiti APC 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Electoral Committee (20th).

Counsel to the 4th-14th Respondents, Mr. Kabir Akingbolu and counsel to the 15th-20th Respondents, Mr. Adedayo Adewumi, equally urged the court to dismiss the appeal of the Appellants on grounds that it was incompetent.

The 4th-19th defendants served as Chairmen of the Electoral Committees/Returning Officers in the 16 Local Government Areas during the Ekiti APC Governorship Primary held across the state while the 20th Respondent were members of a panel raised by the party’s national secretariat to conduct the primary poll.

A Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti presided over by Justice Babs Kuewumi, had on 4th August struck out a suit filed by Ojo and upheld Oyebanji’s preliminary objection that the writ of summons and statement of claim of Ojo were defective which it said dealt a fatal blow to the case.

The lower court agreed with Oyebanji’s counsel that the discrepancies in the names of a counsel on Ojo’s originating summons and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stamp had rendered the suit defective and incompetent.

While arguing that the lower court was wrong in striking out Ojo’s suit without going into the merit of the case, Izinyon cited the case of ANPP v Obaseki on Page 22-24 of his brief of argument ruing he decision of the trial court to “throw the baby away with bath water.”

Soje adopted the 1st Respondent’s motion on notice, brief of arguments adopting the arguments contained therein urging the court to dismiss the appeal on grounds that the case is incompetent.

While moving the motion on notice challenging the competence of the appeal, Soje drew the attention of the court to the case of Odeh v Ameh as reported in 2004 4 NWLR pt 863 309 at pg 329 Paragraphs a-e

Mikyau, on behalf of Oyebanji, adopted notice of preliminary objection in response to a reply to appellant’s preliminary objection and brief of argument filed by his client as 2nd Respondent.

He contended that by the nature of relief being sought by Oyebanji, that the Appeal Court “cannot step into the shoes of the trial court” on the 180 days window stipulated for the trial of the case.

Mikyau argued further: “The trial court in law is no longer present in this matter and having not done so does not extend the time of this court. There is no way the Court of Appeal can intervene because the time allowed had lapsed.”

He argued that the Ojo’s appeal has become academic and it serves no useful purpose as ruled by the lower court which had earlier adjudicated on the matter.

While urging the court to dismiss the substantive appeal, Mikyau said he would not ask for any cost “in the spirit of sportsmanship” while urging the Appellant to continue in that spirit of sportsmanship.

Counsel to 4th-14th Respondents, Akingbolu and counsel to 15th-20th Respondents, Adewumi, in adopting and arguing their briefs also urged the court to dismiss Ojo’s appeal.

Addressing the court after all counsels had adopted and argued their briefs, Justice Adumein thanked them for their diligence assuring that the three-member panel of judges would do its bit to do justice to the appeal.

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