Justice Daniel Emeka Osiagor of a Federal High Court, Lagos, on Friday delivered a judgment recognising Dr. John Okoro Kome as the authentic candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), representing Ikeja Constituency 1, for the forthcoming election into the Lagos State House of Assembly
Kome had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the People Democratic Party, PDP, and one Abiodun Ezekiel Olufolarinwa as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively before the court for removing his name as the winner of the election and the party’s candidate.
In an originating summon filed before the court by his counsel Don Akaegbu, Kome challenged INEC and PDP for submitting the name of the 3rd Defendant as the winner of the election in which he (Kome) was the actual winner.
He argued that having purchased the party’s nomination form, screened and cleared by the party, he contested in the election with the 3rd defendants as the only two contestants for the party.
“A day before the conduct of the primary election and on the day of the election, the 3rd Defendant being my only opponent and fellow contestant stepped down for me, leading to my emergence as the consensus candidate and winner of the primary election for Ikeja Constituency 1, ” he stated.
He further stated that after the successful primary election which was observed, supervised and witnessed by INEC officials, the police and other security agents, he was later issued with the Certified True Copy, CTC, of the election results by INEC.
However he told the court that he was shocked when he learnt someone in the party wanted his name substituted with that of the 3rd Defendant who stepped down for him.
Kome added that at the deadline for the submission of the candidates name to INEC by the party, his fears were confirmed as the 3rd defendant’s name was submitted by the party as the winner and published by INEC on July 15 and 22, 2022 respectively.
He sought for the court to declare him as the winner of the election and the PDP’s flag bearer in the forthcoming general election having emerged as the consensus candidate during the primary.
He also sought for a declaration that “the nomination and submission of the name of the 3rd Defendant as the 2nd Defendant’s candidate or flag bearer for the March, 2023 general elections for Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikeja Constituency 1 is ultra-vires, null and void, as well as “an order nullifying the purported nomination, submission and publication of the name of the 3rd Defendant as the candidate or flag bearer for the March, 2023 general elections into Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikeja Constituency 1 by the 1st and 2nd Defendants.”
Other relief he sought were that the court should direct “the 1st and 2nd defendants to forthwith respectively submit and publish the name of the plaintiff as the candidate and flag bearer of the 2nd Defendant for the March, 2023 general elections into Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikeja Constituency 1, according him due recognition as same.”
In his reply, the 3rd defendant argued that the plaintiff filed the suit 14days after the name of the winner was published by INEC and therefore was statute barred. He further argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter. He further denied stepping down for the plaintiff.
INEC on the other hand, in it’s submission, did not oppose the court’s jurisdiction.
In his judgment, Justice Osiagor granted all the reliefs of the plaintiff. He also blasted the PDP for substituting the name of the plaintiff with that of the 3rd defendant.
The judge stated that INEC had presented a clearance certificate to the plaintiff after the election confirming he won the primary. He also rejected the argument of the 3rd defendant that the suit was statute bar, stating that the names of winners were released by INEC on July 5, 2022, while the plaintiff filed the suit on July 27, two days before the expiration of the 14days.
The judge further stated that the plaintiff could not have filed a suit against himself immediately after the election since he had already been declared winner of the primary.
Furthermore, the judge also threw out the 3rd defendant’s argument that he did not step down for the plaintiff, citing evidence such as his campaign posters where he announced his withdrawal from the primary and congratulated the winner.
“Why the change of mind to now disunite the united party,” he blasted the 3rd defendant.
” I find merit in the plaintiff’s suit and grant all his reliefs,” the judge said.
Counsel to Kome, Don Akaegbu, commended the judge for ruling in the favour of the plaintiff and urged INEC to ensure it abided by the Electoral Act.
The elated Kome also called on the 3rd defendant to join hands with him to ensure the party wins the Constituency in 2023.