By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Apo, yesterday, discountenanced a suit seeking to disqualify the Governor of Adamawa State, Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow from contesting the next governorship election.
In a suit, marked FCT/CV/518/2018, the plaintiff, the Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, claimed that Bindow supplied false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to the plaintiff, the governor, had in his INEC Form CF00, said to have sat for the West African Examination Council (WAEC), in June, 1983 and posses General Certificate of Education (GCE) issued by the examination body.
In their arguments, the group, accused Bindow of falsely declaring his educational qualification and date of birth for the purpose of nomination/election into the office of Governor of Adamawa State for the 2019 general elections.
Delivering his judgment, the trial Judge held that the Abuja court lacked the territorial jurisdiction to inquire into whether or not the information submitted by somebody who seeks to contest election in Adamawa State were false or not.
Justice Adeniyi said since the information Bindow supplied to INEC were published in Adamawa State, as required under Section 31(3), the cause of action could be said to have accrued in Adamawa, where the plaintiff game about the published information.
Further in his ruling, the court held it was an abuse of court process and an act of forum shopping for the plaintiff to have travelled all the way to the FCT to challenge an alleged infraction that took place in Adamawa State, where available courts could have safely dealt with issues raised.
“It is therefore my potion that the capacity of the claimant to pursue this case is provided in Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, which says ‘any person,’but did not define the word ‘any person.’
Relying on Section18(1) of the Interpretation Act, the judge said: “this court is not in doubt that the claimant (plaintiff) qualifies as a corporate personality,” and proceeded to “hold that the claimant is vested with the legal capacity to institute this suit.”
He however, noted that there was a lacuna in the provision of Section 285(14) of the 4th Alteration to the Constitution, which limits the class of people, who can file pre-election cases to an aspirant and a political party.
In addition, the court informed that since Section 31(5) allows any person to sue where it is discovered that a candidate provide false information to INEC, Section 285(14) of the Constitution should be made to include other classes of people or institutions.
The judge also held that the plaintiff made out a reasonable cause of action to entitle it to be heard by the court.
Justice Adeniyi, however, held that the suit was statute barred because it was filed outside the 14 days provided under Section 285(9) of the Constitution.
The judge noted that, while INEC acknowledged the receipt of Bindow’s Form CF001 on October 25, 2018, the plaintiff filed the suit on December 12, 2018, a length of time which exceeded the 14 days provided under 285(9).
Justice Adeniyi, having partially upheld the notice of objection and held that the his court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the suit, proceeded to dismiss it.
The Judge, after analysing all the evidence provided by the plaintiff, held that it failed to prove it’s allegation of certificate forgery and age falsification made against Bindow.
The judge said the plaintiff claimed Bindow forged his academic certificate, but failed to lead evidence to support same.