Ondo poll: Court orders Aiyedatiwa, others to file defence

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A Federal High Court (FHC) in Abuja yesterday ordered Ondo State Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, and others, to file their defence in a suit instituted by Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, seeking to void the April 20 governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the directive after counsel for the APC, Tayo Oyetibo, informed the court that the party had written a letter to the Chief Judge of the FHC for the matter to be transferred to the Akure division.

Ibrahim sued APC, Aiyedatiwa and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INE) as 1st to 3rd defendants. He is praying the court to set aside the April 20 governorship primary that produced Aiyedatiwa as the party’s candidate.

Ibrahim also urged the court to declare that Aiyedatiwa is not the valid candidate by virtue of the party’s non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act (2022), and the party’s regulations and guidelines in the conduct of the poll.

He, therefore, sought an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the governor from parading himself as the APC’s governorship candidate for the November election.

Ibrahim also prayed the court for a mandatory injunction compelling INEC to delist the names of APC and Aiyedatiwa from the list of political parties and governorship candidates for the election. He also asked the court to strip the party and Aiyedatiwa ‘of all rights and appurtenant to political parties fielding candidates, and candidates at the said governorship election, except a fresh primary election I’s conducted and a candidate lawfully nominated’.

At the resumed hearing yesterday, Ibrahim’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, told the court that he received a memorandum of conditional appearance from APC’s lawyer. Uche said he also received a memorandum of conditional appearance from INEC but had not received any application from Aiyedatiwa.

The lawyer said besides all these, the defendants had not filed any defence in the suit

But Oyetibo confirmed filing a memorandum of conditional appearance, which was served on the plaintiff. He said since the plaintiff served on them their processes on May 7, he was still within time to respond.

The lawyer, who wondered why Ibrahim filed the suit in Abuja, told the court that a letter had been written to the Chief Judge, Justice Tsoho, seeking for the transfer of the matter to the Akure division. He said they are awaiting the CJ’s response.

Aiyedatiwa’s lawyer, Bode Olanipekun, said though they were served on May 9, they were still within time to respond. He therefore confirmed Oyetibo’s position on a letter to the CJ.

INEC’s lawyer Charlesi Edosanwan, who said he was still within time to file their response, said he was also aware of the APC’s letter to have the matter transferred.

But Uche said writing a letter was a non-issue as the letter was not before the court.

Justice Ekwo said the issue of the letter cannot be discussed in the court since the letter was not before him. He held that what was before him was what he was concerned about

He added: “What I am going to do, taking into consideration time for parties to file and respond, is to will give you a time of return date and from there, we will get further directive.”

Justice Ekwo also directed parties to file their applications and adjourned till May 29 for mention.

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