The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday ruled that Senator Ademola Adeleke was qualified to contest the September 2018 governorship election.
A three-man panel of the court made the pronouncement in a unanimous judgment which upheld the appeals by Adeleke and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, awarded the cost of N3m against the plaintiffs who instituted the suit before the FCT High Court — Wahab Raheem and Adam Habeeb — who were respondents to the appeals filed by Adeleke and the PDP.
Adeleke’s and PDP’s appeals had challenged the April 2, 2019 judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, which had declared Adeleke ineligible to contest the election on the grounds that he forged his secondary school credentials submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2018.
Justice Othman Musa of the FCT High Court had also declared Adeleke a dropout of the Ede Muslim Grammar School in Ede, Osun State, and thus was not qualified under Section 177(d) of the Constitution to contest last year’s governorship election in Osun State.
But, upturning the judgment on Thursday, Justice Emmanuel Agim, who delivered the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, held that the suit, having not been filed within 14 days after Adeleke’s Form CF001 was submitted to INEC or 14 days after his name was published as a candidate in the September 2018 election, the suit filed before the FCT High Court, by virtue of Section 285 of the Constitution, had become statute-barred.
Justice Agim also held that the failure of the FCT High Court to deliver its verdict within 60 days of the filing of the suit had rendered the lower court’s judgment a nullity.
But the Court of Appeal also held the affidavit evidence of the West African Examination Council and result ledger attached to it showing that Adeleke was not a dropout but actually sat the May 1981 examination of the body at Muslim Grammar School, Ede.
Justice Agim held that by virtue of Section 177 of the Constitution, by merely writing the examination and without passing any paper, Adeleke was qualified to contest the governorship election.