Justice C.N Uwa of Court of Appeal sitting in Benin ,Edo State on Friday affirmed the candidacy of Senator Ovie OmoAgege and 43 other candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, that emerged through the APC primaries of the Jones Erue Executive of Delta State APC.
The affirmation followed an appeal filed by the 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 intraparty 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 consequential 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 hereby set aside,” the court held in the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice C.N Uwa.