Tribunal upholds House of Reps member’s election in Ondo

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By Nsikak Nseyen

The Ondo State Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Akure on Thursday, upheld the election victory of Mr Gboyega Adefarati, a member of the House of Representatives representing Akoko South East-Akoko South West.

The three-man tribunal dismissed a petition filed by Mr Kolawole Olugbenga, a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), over the Feb. 25 election.

Olugbenga, through his counsel, Mr Tolu Babaleye, had petitioned against Adefarati alongside INEC and the All Progressives Congress (APC), stating that the Federal High Court in Akure had on Feb. 17 nullified the primary election of Adefarati and directed INEC not to recognise the APC candidate in the said election.

The petitioner added that, in the eyes of the law, APC had no candidate at the time of the Feb. 25 election.

Speaking on the petition, Justice Rose Soji said that the petition lacked merit since the Court of Appeal in Akure had overturned the verdict of the lower court.

Soji added that the prayer of the petitioner was an invitation to cause judicial anarchy, describing it as a perfect example of a waste of court process.

She explained that the tribunal was under a constitutional duty to enforce the judgement of the appellate court, saying that the Nigerian Constitution stipulates that the Court of Appeal judgements shall be enforced across the federation.

The tribunal, therefore, struck out the petition and awarded a sum of N150,000 against the petitioner in favour of the respondents.

Earlier, the counsel to Adefarati, Chief Olusola Oke, SAN, had asked the court to dismiss the petition because it was an affront to the constitutional rights of the respondent as provided by the Constitution.

Oke added that the Federal High Court judgement relied upon by the petitioner was a dead judgement that could not be relied upon since the appellate court had nullified it.

He stated that the matter before the tribunal was a pre-election matter that the tribunal could not entertain.

Speaking on the judgement, the APC chairman in the state, Mr Ade Adetimehin, described the verdict as a victory for democracy.

Adetimehin added that the judgement showed that the common man still has hope in the country, noting that someone had worked hard to win the election, but the losing side wanted to use technicalities to hijack the election victory.

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