Court of Appeal sitting in Benin has today affirmed the candidacy of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and 43 other cabdidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC that emerged through the electoral college of the Jones Erue Executive of Delta State APC.
The affirmation followed an appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress, APC against the judgment of Asaba Federal High Court which on March 18, declared Cyril Ogodo-led faction as the elected executives of the party.
The court in a unanimous judgment read by Justice Mohammed Shaibu, held that the lower court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit as it bordered on intra-party matter.
The appellate court also held that respondents’ non-compliance with section 97 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act breached was a fundamental breach of the law, adding that statutory provision of service writ of summons was not complied with, as the writ was not endorsed.
Besides, the court further held that failure of the respondents to file their suit within 14 days of the act complained of (pre-election) extinguished their rights and therefore lack locus standi to contest the primary they did not participate in.
“In the instant case, the respondents were neither aspirants nor contestants” and therefore lack locus standi to challenge the action of the APC, the court said.
“The appeal is allowed. The judgment of the lower court is hereby struck out for lack of jurisdiction, the court held and awarded N100,000 costs against the respondents.
Noting that Erue’s exco remains authentic in the state, the Court then proceeded to set aside the consequencial order nullifying the candidacies of Senator Omo-Agege, Chief Great Ogboru, Rev. Francis Waive and 41 other APC candidates in the just concluded general elections in Delta State.
In another judgment on the appeal by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on the same subject matter, the court held that election matters are time-bound and must be strictly adhered to, adding that the lower court was wrong to have assumed jurisdiction in the suit.
“The lower court was wrong, the judgment is a nullity and is herbey set aside”, the court held in the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice C.N Uwa.
Soon after the judgment, jubilant supporters of Prophet Jones Erue burst into celebration at the premises of the Court of Appeal.