BY LEKE ADEGBITE
The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, Ondo State has dismissed an appeal filed by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Osulowo Tibetan against the election of a lawmaker representing Okitipupa state constituency -2, Hon James Ololade-Gbegudu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure, Appeal court and the Supreme Court had upheld the sack of Akinwunmi of the APC as a member of the Ondo State House of Assembly and declared Ololade-Gbegudu as the winner of the 2019 APC assembly primary.
Months after the case had been settled in favour of Ololade-Gbegudu, the PDP assembly candidate in the 2019 general election, Osulowo approached the Appellate Court to grant him the permission to appeal against the courts decision and asked the court to declare him the winner of the poll.
He noted that since Akinwunmi who participated in the election had been sacked for not winning his party’s primaries, he should have been declared the lawmaker instead of Ololade-Gbegudu.
In their ruling however, the three man panel of the Appeal Court, held that the issue was a pre-election matter that must be filed within fourteen days at the trial court.
The application, with Appeal No: CA/AK/356/2019: People’s Democratic Party & Another V. Mr. Gbegudu Ololade James & 5 Others, was filed on 15th October, 2019 by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in that election, Osulowo Tibetan, through their Counsel, Olusola Oke, seeking leave to appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, as interested parties.
Delivering the lead judgment of the Court through a virtual proceeding held on Thursday, 25th June, 2020, with all the Counsel to the parties in attendance in the open Court, Hon. Justice O. F Omoleye held that the application contravened the provision of Section 285(11) & (12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which stipulates that an appeal in a pre-election matter must be filed within fourteen days from the date of the judgment, and that the appeal itself must be heard and determined within sixty days after same is filed.
This, according to the Court, means that both the filing of an appeal in a pre-election matter and the delivery of judgment in such appeal must be within a maximum period of seventy four days after the judgment being appealed against.
The Appeal Court therefore agreed with Counsel to Hon. Gbegudu, Ifedayo I. Olanipekun of Femi Emmanuel Emodamori & Co, that the application which was filed by PDP and its candidate about eighty eight days after the Court of Appeal judgment sought to be appealed against, is incurably incompetent and thereby robbed the Court of jurisdiction to entertain same.
The Court consequently struck out the application with N100,000 costs awarded against PDP and Osulowo Tibetan, in favour of Hon. Gbegudu.
Hon. Justice O.F Omoleye read the concurring judgments of the two other Justices on the panel.
O.A Dare-Daniel appeared for PDP and Osulowo Tibetan, while Femi Emmanuel Emodamori and Ifedayo I Olanipekun appeared for Hon. Gbegudu Ololade James, who was the 1st Respondent in the application.
Oluwayemisi Olurotimi equally appeared for the 2nd Respondent, Sina Akinwumi Emmanuel, while B.A Aderosin appeared for the 3rd to 5th Respondents in the case, All Progressives Congress (APC), Engr. Ade Adetimehin, and Sina Alaye respectively and INEC was represented by O. A Kuku.
All the Counsel thanked the Court for the well-considered ruling.
Meanwhile, Counsel to Hon. Gbegudu, Femi Emmanuel Emodamori, has written a letter to PDP to demand immediate payment of the N100,000 awarded in favour of his client, stating that failure of PDP to make immediate payment of the money would compel his client to confiscate and auction any and/or all movable properties at its Ondo State Secretariat through a writ of execution, even if the cost of doing so is higher than the N100,000, considering the needless distraction which the PDP had subjected him to by their “puerile and provocative” application.’