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Court dismisses suit against ex-Ondo deputy gov as senatorial candidate

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The Federal High Court sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, has dismissed the suit challenging the election of the former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Ondo South senatorial district.

Justice Rilwanu Aikawa, while delivering the verdict on Monday through zoom, said the suit filed by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo was statue-barred because it was filed outside the time provided under the law.

Tofowomo, who scored 74 in the PDP was defeated by Ajayi who polled 78 in a keenly contested PDP primary election to represent the South senatorial district.

Displeased with the outcome of the primary, Tofowomo through his counsel, Femi Emodamori, however, challenged the outcome of the primary election.

Tofowomo, who accused Ajayi of an alleged act of perjury and education scandal, in a suit number: FHC/CS/AK/83/2022 filed on July 5, 2022, prayed the court to nullify the former deputy governor nomination on the grounds of controversial academic records allegedly presented by Ajayi for the election.

He alleged that Ajayi lied on oath in his form, which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for poll clearance.

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According to him, Agboola did not meet the constitutional requirements for contesting the 2023 general election as contained in the interpretation and application of Section 66 (1) (i) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 29(5) & (6) of the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as other relevant laws.

But Ajayi, through his lawyer, Kayode Olatoke, argued that the allegation of perjury against him is unfounded and claimed that the school registrar as at the time he wrote his WAEC has sworn to an affidavit in 2006, to absolve him of the controversial error about his date of birth on his WAEC certificate.

Ajayi said the case was filed outside the time allowed under the law, that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case and that it was a mere academic exercise and waste of court time.

In its verdict, Justice Aikawa the Supreme Court in several decided cases held that the date of occurrence is to be used to determine the status of the case and not the date the plaintiff was aware of the case.

Aikawa said the date of the occurrence of the cause of action was June 9, 2022, and the date the case was filed was July 5, 2022. He held that the case which supposed to be filed 14 days was filed after 26 after the cause of action.

He held that the case would not be heard on merit since it was filed outside the time allowed under the 1999 constitution and the amended Electoral Act and consequently dismissed the case.