PRESS STATEMENT ON THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT JUDGMENT ON THE ONDO SOUTH PDP SENATORIAL TICKET
The Federal High Court, presided over by Hon. Justice R.M Aikawa, has just delivered the much awaited judgment in the case I filed to disqualify Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi as the PDP candidate for Ondo South Senatorial District, over his presentation of forged/false certificates to INEC.
The highly respected Judge, in his wisdom, held that I did not file the case within 14 days from 9th June, 2022, when Agboola Ajayi filled his INEC Form EC9.
Consequently, his lordship held that the case was statute-barred, and that there was no need to go further into the real issue of whether or not Hon. Agboola Ajayi actually presented forged certificates or false information to INEC.
As a graduate of Law, I am convinced that the judgment of the Court is diametrically in conflict with the settled position of the Supreme Court, that in a pre-election case relating to alleged presentation of forged certificate or information, time begins to run from the date of the statutory publication of the name and personal particulars of the candidate by INEC, and not before.
In the very recent case of ADAMU V DANTIYE (2022) 1 NWLR (PT 1810) 1 AT PAGE 24, PARAGRAPHS E-G, the Supreme Court categorically held that:
“Whoever complains that a candidate made a false declaration in his INEC Form must file a suit against such candidate within fourteen days from the date of the publication by INEC of the allegedly’ false declaration.
The date of the statutory publication is the date the cause of action for a suit under section 31(3) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) accrued…..”
Similarly, in MOD1BBO V. USMAN (2020) 4 NWLR (PT 1712) 470 AT 505 PARAS C-G, the Supreme Court also held that:
“The fact, undisputed, is that INEC published on 25th October, 2018, pursuant to its obligation under section 31(3) of the Electoral Act the personal particulars of the appellant contained in his nomination papers…I agree with the 1st Respondent and the concurrent judgments of the two courts below that the said 25th October, 2018, being the date of the statutory publication, was the date the cause of action for the suit under section 31(5) of the Electoral Act (as amended) accrued to the 1st respondent. From that said date to 5th November, 2018 when the suit was filed, being 11 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, or action complained of, the suit filed timeously cannot, therefore be statute barred by virtue of section 285(9) of the Constitution (as amended).”
The question that beats my imagination is how would I know what Agboola Ajayi filled in his INEC Form EC9 in the comfort of his room on 9th June, 2022, when he did not even submit the Form to INEC until 17th June, 2022 as shown by the latter’s endorsement of receipt on it? Again, how would I know what Hon. Agboola Ajayi submitted to INEC, until INEC published same?
INEC published the personal particulars of Hon. Agboola Ajayi, like all the other candidates for the Senate throughout Nigeria, on 24th June, 2022. I filed the Suit on 5th July, 2022, within Eleven (11) days from the date of the publication.
I filed the Suit within the 14 days stipulated by the Supreme Court in its decisions quoted above. I have no alternative, but to appeal the judgment. I have therefore instructed my Lawyers to appeal the judgment immediately, based on the above clear position of the Judgments of the Supreme Court, which is binding on all other Courts and authorities in Nigeria.
To my massive supporters across the Ondo South Senatorial District, I assure you that, God willing, we shall get justice at the appellate Courts. Any other person claiming to be the PDP candidate for Ondo South Senatorial District would at best be my ‘place holder’. Keep the flag flying.
Senator Nicholas Tofowomo
(17th October, 2022)