A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit that challenged the emergence of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last governorship election held in Ondo State.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment on Wednesday, held that the suit filed by Mrs. Olajumoke Anifowoshe was statute barred on the grounds that being a pre-election matter, it was filed outside the 14 days provided in Section 185(9) of the Constitution.
Justice Ekwo held that, although the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/881/20200, which challenged the outcome of the APC’s governorship primary election held on July 20, 2020 was originally filed on July 26, 2020 (within 14 days after the occurrence of the cause of action), it was wrongly commenced when the plaintiff chose to sue the Governor of Ondo State as against Akeredolu in person.
The judge said the amendment effected by the plaintiff on the originating summons, to substitute the party named as first defendant – the Governor of Ondo State – with Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, was done on August 13, 2020 outside the 14 days allowed by the Constitution.
The judge said the amendment of the originating process for the purpose of substituting parties in the course of the suit, would have been in order if it was done by the plaintiff within the 14 days allowed for the commencement of pre-election cases under Section 185(9) of the Constitution.
The judge faulted the argument by the plaintiff that the subscription of the Governor of Ondo State with Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (as the first defendant) was a mere misnomer.
Justice Ekwo said since the original suit was defective, the correction/substitution effected by the plaintiff outside the constitutionally stipulated 14 days can not be regarded as misnomer.
“Misnomer has to do with a correction of typographical error, not where a party is substituted. The substitution of a party in the course of proceedings is outside the realm of the concept of misnomer,” the judge said.
He noted that the Governor of Ondo State is not the same as Akeredolu, and that while the former is an office, the later is a human being.
The judge added that it was Akeredolu who participated in the primary, whose outcome was being challenged, and not the Governor of Ondo State earlier sued by the plaintiff before the amendment was effected on the originating summons.