By Peterson Ibi/Benin
The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, Edo State on Monday overruled the the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national assembly primary election appeals committee, headed by former Governor of Edo State, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor.
The court then declared the Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Kabiru Adjoto, as the candidate of the party for Akoko-Edo federal constituency.
The party’s appeal committee had declared incumbent representative of the constituency, Peter Akpatason, as winner of the primary election.
Delivering its judgment on an appeal brought before it by Adjoto, who claimed he won the party’s primary election but was denied the ticket and that the lower court did not give him justice, Justice Moore Abraham-Adumein, who read the lead judgement in the appeal, said that the trial court ought to have heard the case brought before it, since it is its duty to do so.
He lamented that “the trial court for reasons best known to it, failed or neglected to make any pronouncement on the live issue before it.”
He said the Osunbor committee was not properly constituted, because the committee contravenes Article 21 B of the APC guidelines, part of which says “no member of the five member appeals committee shall be from the state of assignment,” and so, the committee ought not to hear the case.
Abraham-Adumein however said 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 during the election, Sufiyanu Igbafe, declared that Adjoto scored 7,034 votes as against his opponent, Peter Akpatason who scored 5,606 votes.
He said; “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 cost 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.
Reacting to the judgement, Adjoto said his victory was victory for democracy.
He said: “The judiciary is not only the last hope of the common man but also of the big man.”
Counsel to Akpatason, Omoh-Ige Adebayo, said they would contest the judgment in the Supreme Court.
Justice Adumein also dismissed the appeal of Osazee Obazee, Oredo East Constituency in favour of Uyiosasere Ekhosuehi as the rightful party candidate.
He held that Ekhosuehi remains the party candidate till January 2019, when the Independent National Electoral Commission published the names of the party candidates for the State House of Assembly.