BY LEKE ADEGBITE
The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition instituted by the PDP candidate for Okitipupa Constituency II, Osulowo Tibetan, against the election of a member of the Ondo state House of Assembly, Hon James Ololade Gbegudu of the APC.
The High Court and Court of Appeal had earlier declared Gbegudu as the authentic winner of APC primary for Okitipupa Constituency II, and ordered that INEC should withdraw the Certificate of Return of Sina Akinwumi, and issued same to Gbegudu and the Apex Court also dismissed appeal by Sina Akinwumi.
PDP and its candidate, Osulowo Tibetan, in the 2019 assembly election thereafter approached the Court to declare that since Sina Akinwumi who stood for APC was not the right candidate, the Apex court should order that the PDP candidate, should be declared winner instead of Mr Gbegudu replacing Sina Akinwumi at the Assembly.
PDP and its candidate lost at the Court of Appeal where they sought to appeal as interested parties against the judgment recognizing Gbegudu.
Osulowo insisted in his petition that Gbegudu did not participate in all the stages of the election of 9th March, 2019 which is the election in dispute in the appeal.
The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and Osulowo, are plaintiffs in the suit while Gbegudu, Akinwumi, the APC, the Ondo State Chairman of APC, Ade Adetimehin; the party’s Secretary, Sina Alaye and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Consequently, the five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, at a sitting on Monday in Abuja, agreed with Gbegudu’s Counsel, Femi Emodamori, that it was a pre-election matter which was time-bound and already statute-barred and dismissed the PDP candidate.
Reacting to the judgment, the member of the Ondo state House of Assembly, Hon Ololade Gbegudu, expressed happiness that the legal battle of over two years had finally been laid to rest by the Apex court, promising that the verdict would allow him to focus fully on his assignment of giving the people of Okitipupa constituency II.