By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, yesterday, held that Senator Ademola Adeleke was qualified to contest the September 2018, governorship election.
The appellant court awarded the cost of N3million against the respondents, All Progressive Congress chieftains, Wahab Raheem and Adam Habeeb.
A three-man panel of the court, in a unanimous judgment, upheld the appeals by Adeleke and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
Adeleke and his party, approached the appellate court, challenging the federal capital territory high court’s decision against him.
Justice Othman Musa of the lower court had on April 2, 2019, declared Adeleke unqualified to contest the election on the grounds that he forged his secondary school credentials submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) in 2018.
The court in it decision held that Adeleke is a dropout of the Ede Muslim Grammar School in Ede, Osun State.
The court maintained that the Senator failed to meet the requirements of Section 177(d) of the Constitution to contest governorship election in Osun State.
However, the Appeal court in its judgement read by the lead judge, Justice Emmnuel Agim, held that the suit lodged at the lower court, was defective and statute-barred.
According to the court, the matter having not been filed within 14 days after Adeleke’s Form CF001 was submitted to INEC or 14 days after his name was published as a candidate in the September 2018 election, the suit by virtue of Section 285 of the Constitution, had become statute-barred.
The court insisted that the plaintiff’s inability to institutes the case before the lower court to deliver its verdict within 60 days of the filing of the suit had rendered the lower court’s judgment a nullity.
It insisted that any suit that sought to disqualify a candidate under section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, amounted to a pre-election matter in which judgment must be delivered in writing within 180 days.
Further in its judgement, Justice Agim held that the issue had been previously settled on the 8th of August, by a high court in Oshogbo, stressing that Justice Othman was wrong when he assumes jurisdiction and voided Adeleke’s nomination.
It added that the affidavit evidence of the West African Examination Council and result ledger attached to it showed that Adeleke was not a dropout but actually sat the May 1981 examination of the body at Muslim Grammar School, Ede.
Therefore, Justice Agim held that by virtue of Section 177 of the Constitution, by merely writing the examination and without passing any paper, Adeleke was qualified to contest the governorship election.