By Igbaugba Ehigimetor
The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin on Monday nullified the election of Mr Peter Akpatason of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a member of the House of Representatives for the Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency.
The Speaker, Edo House of Assembly, Mr Kabiru Adjoto, had filed an appeal against the judgment of a lower court that held and declared Akpatason as the party’s candidate in the Feb. 23, National Assembly elections.
Adjoto claimed that he won the party’s primary election held in October 018, but was denied the ticket by the party leadership which he alleged was also affirmed by the lower court.
The Justice Moore Abraham-Adumein-led three-member tribunal, in its Judgment, held that Akpatason was not the right candidate who emerged from the party primary, hence was not qualified to have contested for the March 9 national assembly election.
The tribunal subsequently declared Adjoto, being the candidate who emerged from the party primaries, as the right candidate for the Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency.
The Court also nullified the decision of the APC’s National Assembly Primaries Election Appeals Committee headed by former Governor of Edo, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor.
Abraham-Adumein held that the trial court ought to have heard the case brought before it “since it is its duty to do so’’.
“The trial court, for reasons best known to it, failed or neglected to make any pronouncement on the live issue before it,” he said.
Abraham-Adumein said the Osunbor committee was not properly constituted because the committee contravened Article 21B of the APC guidelines, part of which said, “no member of the five member appeals committee shall be from the state of assignment” and so the committee ab initio ought not to hear the case.
He, however, said that referring the case back to the trial court would have been statute bared but that having considered the evidences before the lower court which it did not consider.”Adjoto won the primary election, as the returning officer, Sufiyanu Igbafe, declared that Adjoto scored 7,034 votes, as against his opponent, Peter Akpatason’s 5,606 votes.
“This appeal is hereby unanimously allowed and the prayers sought by the appellant in the trial court are hereby granted and the sum of N300, 000 is hereby awarded as costs against the 1st and 2nd respondents.”
He said his two colleagues: Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, who is the presiding justice and Justice Tunde Efotoye, agreed with the judgment.
However, Counsel to Akpatason, Omoh-Ige Adebayo said they would contest the judgment in the Supreme Court, while an elated Adjoto said, “The judiciary is not only the last hope of the common man but also of the big man.”