Candidacy Battle: Court Orders APC, Aiyedatiwa, INEC To File Defence

Muhammed Abubakar, Reporting

JUSTICE Inyang Edem Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ondo State governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to file their defence in a suit seeking the removal of Aiyedatiwa as APC governoship candidate for November election.

The judge ordered that the three defendants must file their respective defences within days allowed by law since the suit is time-bound.

Stonix News reports that the order of the court followed a claim by the APC that it had written a letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court requesting transfer of the case from Abuja to Ondo State.

Candidacy Battle: Court Orders APC, Aiyedatiwa, INEC To File Defence

The judiciary

At Tuesday’s proceedings, APC lead counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, informed the court that his client had forwarded a letter to the Chief Judge praying for transfer of the case from the Abuja division to Akure division.

He, however, admitted that APC had not received any response to the letter.

In response, Justice Ekwo held that there was no letter before him and as such, could not act on something that is not before the court.

Rather, the judge ordered that with or without the letter before him, the defendants must respond to the issues raised by the plaintiff, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, against the conduct of the primary election that purportedly produced Aiyedatiwa as APC candidate.

APC, in its letter by Matthew Bukkar SAN, dated May 12 but received in Chief Judge’s Office on May 13, 2024, claimed that the primary election being challenged was conducted in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

It explained that it has a functional office in Akure with the State Working Committee on ground and that the electoral body also has an office in Akure.

In addition, the APC said that Governor Aiyedatiwa, whose candidacy is being challenged, is resident in Akure.

The ruling party, therefore, said that Akure division of the Federal High Court was the more convenient place for the case to be determined.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Chief Chris Uche SAN, was, however, not allowed to react to the letter on the ground that it was not before the court.

Justice Ekwo, after issuing the order, fixed May 29 for hearing of the suit with a warning that all processes in respect of the suit must be filed and exchanged by parties.

Ibrahim, who is representing Ondo South in the Senate, is praying the court to cancel the purported nomination of Aiyedatiwa as APC candidate on the ground that the April 20 primary election that produced him was unlawful.

In the suit instituted on his behalf by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chris Uche, Ibrahim, who’s a governorship aspirant who participated in the controversial primary election, alleged that the poll was marred with a lot of irregularities.

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