Court orders Aiyedatiwa, others to file defence

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, ordered the Ondo State Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the All Progressives Congress, and the Independent National Electoral Commission to file their defence in a suit seeking to nullify Aiyedatiwa’s candidacy in the upcoming gubernatorial election in the state, slated for November.

The Senator representing Ondo South, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, had approached the court to void Aiyedatiwa’s win from the April 20 APC governorship primary election held in Ondo state.

 

He asked the court to declare that Aiyedatiwa was not a valid candidate for the party because the party did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.

 

Ibrahim, who participated and was a governorship aspirant in the said primary election, prayed to the Court to delist APC and Aiyedatiwa from the political parties and candidates that would participate in the gubernatorial poll.

He insisted that the party did not comply with its regulations and guidelines in the conduct of the poll.

 

The plaintiff’s counsel, Chris Uche, (SAN), told the court that he received a memorandum of conditional appearance from APC and INEC’s lawyer but was yet to receive any application from Aiyedatiwa.

 

He further told the court that the defendants were yet to file their defence.

APC’s lead counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, told the court that they had written a letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, requesting for transfer of the case from Abuja to Ondo State.

 

He said he couldn’t understand why the suit was filed in Abuja instead of Ondo state.

 

Oyetibo added that his client had forwarded the said letter to the Chief Judge, Justice Terhemba Tsoho, but was yet to get a response.

 

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, responded that he has no letter of such before him and cannot act on what is not before the court.

Justice Ekwo held that the defendants in the suit must file their respective defence within the days allowed by law since the suit is time-bound.

 

Mentioned as defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/588/2024, are APC, Aiyedatiwa, and INEC as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

 

He proceeded to order that “with or without the letter before him, the defendants must respond to the issues raised by the plaintiff”.

Aiyedatiwa’s lawyer, Bode Olanipekun (SAN), said though they were served on May 9, they were still within time to respond.

 

INEC’s lawyer, Charles Edosanwan, who said he was still within time to file his response, acknowledged that he is aware of APC’s letter requesting the transfer of the matter.

 

APC in a letter by Matthew Bukkar (SAN), dated May 12, but received in the office of the Chief Judge, on May 13, 2024, claimed that the primary election being challenged was conducted in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

 

It explained that it has a functional office in Akure with State Working Committee on the ground and that the electoral body also has an office in Akure.

 

APC said Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa whose candidacy was being challenged is a resident of Akure.

The party therefore said that the Akure division of the Federal High Court is the appropriate and convenient place for the case to be determined.

 

After listening to all parties in the suit, Justice Ekwo adjourned till May 29 for mention.

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