ABUJA, Nigeria – A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed a suit brought before it by the Special Adviser on Political Matters in the Presidency, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, seeking the dissolution of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State.
The Presidential aide had dragged the APC, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inspector of Police (IGP) and Chief Paul Ayodele Omotosho and executive members of the party to the court, praying for an order nullifying leadership constitution of the APC.
He also asked the court for an order compelling INEC to stop further recognition of the Omotosho led state executive committee (SEC) in the State.
Senator. Ojudu and members of his faction further prayed the court to stop members of the state executive committee of the APC from holding themselves out as elected officers of the party in the state.
He claimed that Omotosho led exco members were illegally, fraudulently and unconstitutionally selected on September 15, 2018, at a stakeholders meeting, held in Iyin Ekiti country home of Chief Niyi Adebayo, a former governor of Ekiti State.
However, in a preliminary objection, the APC National Secretariat pleaded with the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that it was filed outside 14 days allowed by law.
The party argued that being a pre-election suit, it ought to have been instituted within 14 days, starting from Sept 15, 2018, when the cause of action arose and, therefore, prayed the court to decline jurisdiction.
In his ruling, Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the suit filed on April 21, 2020, on the ground that it violated Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution and, therefore, statute-barred.
Justice Ekwo held that Senator Ojudu and his faction in the APC leadership tussle failed to institute their case within 14 days as allowed by law.
The Justice agreed with the APC that the suit was statute barred having been filed on April 21, 2020, a period of almost two years when the cause of action arose.
According to him, Section 285 of the 1999 constitution was violently violated by the plaintiffs, having approached the court outside the 14 days allowed by law to ventilate their grievances.
“The words of Section 285 of the 1999 constitution are so clear and not ambiguous as they make it mandatory for all pre-election matters founded on the occurrence of events, decision or action to be instituted within 14 days.
“The duty of the court is to interpret the words contained in the statute and not to go outside the clear words in searching for an interpretation which is convenient to the court or to the parties.
“In the instant case, this matter is constitutionally spent when final decision could not be decided within 180 days permitted by law The hands of this court are tied by section 285 of the constitution.”
“Having found that this suit is statute barred I make an order dismissing it and this case is hereby dismissed without cost. This is the order of this court,” Ekwo said.