Court Clears Ogun APC Governorship Candidate, Abiodun for Saturday’s Election.

An FCT High Court, Apo on Thursday dismissed the suit against the candidacy of Adedapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress for Ogun State in the Saturday governorship election.
The court dismissed the suit filed by an APC member in the state, AbdulRafiu Baruwa, praying the court to disqualify the APC candidate on the ground that he supplied false information to INEC in his Form CF 001.
Delivering judgment, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi held that the suit anchored on the failure of Abiodun to declare his university degree in his Form CF.001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission lacked merit.
Baruwa in the suit had asked the court to disqualify Abiodun from the governorship race for alleged concealment and deliberate refusal to supply details of his educational qualifications to INEC as require by law so as to escape punishment for infringement on the law.
The plaintiff claimed that APC governorship candidate claimed in 2015 senatorial election form for Ogun East to have graduated from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, but in the 2019 governorship form, the candidate was said to have claimed to possess only secondary school education.
Plaintiff asserted that Abiodun deliberately concealed his university education because of his alleged non participation in the mandatory national youth service scheme for Nigerians who are 30 years and below as at the time if graduation.
The plaintiff, through hiis counsel, Oluwole Aladedoye, alleged that Abiodun deliberately refused to disclose his university degree, an act which the plaintiff contended amounted to making false declaration of information so as to avoid the requirement of presenting a National Youth Service Corps certificate.
The plaintiff prayed that on the basis of Abiodun’s allegedly disclosing falsely in the Form CF.001 that all the educational qualification he had was his O’Level certificate, the court should disqualify him from contesting in the forthcoming poll as provided under section 31(4) and (5) of the Electoral Act.
The plaintiff had prayed that upon disqualifying Abiodun, the court should declare Jimi Lawal, who came second in the APC’s governorship primary in Ogun State, as the party’s candidate ahead of the Saturday’s poll in the state.
However, Justice Adeniyi, held that Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution cannot be invoked to disqualify the APC candidate because participation in the NYSC scheme is not a condition for qualification for governorship election.
He also held that the failure to include university education in the Form CF 001 submitted to INEC by Abiodun cannot be used to nullify his nomination because of the provision of the law that a minimum qualification of secondary school is required.
Justice Adeniyi said there was no consequences for Abiodun with his refusal to give details of his university education, adding that the case of the plaintiff is an academic exercise which has no bearing with qualifications for governorship election under the constitution of the country.
The judge ruled that as much as the APC candidate’s non-declaration of his university degree in the form submitted to INEC did not relate to the requirement to contest for the office of the governor as provided for under section 177 of the Constitution, the omission in the said Form CF.001 lacked “legal consequence”.
According to the judge, by virtue of section 177 of the Constitution, a person aspiring to become a governor is only required to produce a school certificate or its equivalent and therefore was of no moment that Abiodun did not produce his university degree to INEC.
The judge said: “I must agree with the learned senior counsel for the first and second defendants (APC and Abiodun) that the portion of section c of Form CF.001 under section 31 of the Electoral Act cannot be construed in vacuum” but in line with the “constitutional requirement to contest for the office of the governor of a state under section 177 (d) of the Constitution which provides that the person must be educated to at least school certificate level or its equivalent.
“In the instant case, the plaintiff is not saying that the second defendant did not possess the educational requirement to contest for the office of the governor in Ogun State under section 177(d) of the Constitution or that the second defendant forged his certificate which would have made him liable for disqualification under section 31 of the Electoral Act.”

Author: News Editor

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