Oluyole federal constituency: Court expresses dismay over delay in pre-election matters

Justice N. Ayo-Emmanuel of a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, has expressed dismay over unnecessary delay in hearing pre- election matters caused by parties, especially, the tendency by parties to file various interlocutory appeals to stop the hearing of the substantive suit.

Justice Ayo-Emmanuel  said this while giving a ruling on the application filed by Honourable Sumbo Olugbemi, the lawmaker representing Oluyole Federal Constituency of Oyo State at the House of Representatives, seeking an order for stay of further proceeding in a suit filed against his candidacy by Honourable Olujide Adewale.

Olugbemi, through his counsel, had asked the court to stay further proceedings in the suit pending the determination of his appeal at the Supreme Court in respect of the suit in the appeal delineated SC/993/2016.

Adewale had filed a suit before the Federal High Court against Olugbemi, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the chairman of APC in Oyo State and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in December 2014, asking for a declaration that he is the duly elected flag bearer of  APC to represent Oluyole constituency, having polled majority of the lawful votes cast  during  the primary election.

Adewale also asked for an order of court that the nomination of Olugbemi is ultra-vires, null and void and an order nullifying his nomination and his subsequent substitution as well as an order directing APC to accord him his due recognition as the party’s flag bearer.

The judge recommended that the amendment should be such that all interlocutory appeals in pre-election matters should abide with  the final determination by the trial court before an appeal and the limit must be set for the trial and determination of all pre- election matters just as is the case in election matters.

 

Others are an order directing INEC not to recognise Olugbemi, withdraw his Certificate of Return and issue a Certificate of Return to him or in the alternative, order a fresh election in Oluyole federal constituency.

Olugbemi had argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter. The court had ruled that it has the requisite jurisdiction to hear the suit and Olugbemi had headed to the Appeal Court to contest the ruling.

The Court of Appeal had also held that the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to hear the suit and the case was returned to the lower court for hearing. But at the resumed hearing of the matter, Olugbemi’s counsel, M.O. Adebayo, had applied that the court stay execution as his client had gone to the Supreme Court to contest the appellate court ruling.

The court, in its ruling on the latest application, stated that the pre-election result which is the subject matter of the suit, is almost half way gone in its tenure while parties are still battling with interlocutory appeals.

“It took almost one year for the Court of Appeal to render a decision over an appeal on a ruling delivered by this court on  December 9, 2015 and now the decision of the Court of Appeal is heading for the Supreme Court. Only God knows when the appeal will be determined at the Supreme Court, ”  he said.

The judge recommended that the amendment should be such that all interlocutory appeals in pre-election matters should abide with  the final determination by the trial court before an appeal and the limit must be set for the trial and determination of all pre- election matters just as is the case in election matters.

The judge further recommended that candidates in any pre –election case, should not be sworn in until same is disposed off, adding that this will ginger parties to pursue their pre-election cases with vigour.

“If these issues are not taken into consideration in any future amendment of the electoral Act, we would continue to have cases like this which may not be concluded until expiration of the legislative year.

“Be that as it may, I have only expressed my views and frustration, the law still remains. I will grant the application of the first defendant/ applicant and stay further proceedings in this case until otherwise decided by the Supreme Court.  The case  was adjourned till  February 28 for report,” the court ruled.