The Benin division of the Court of Appeal has sacked House of Representatives Member-elect for Akoko-Edo federal constituency, Mr Peter Akpatason over irregularities in primaries.
The court held that Akpatason did not emerge the winner of the All Progressives Congress primaries held in the constituency and that Mr Kabiru Adjoto won the primaries.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the speaker of the Edo House of Assembly, Adjoto, had filed an appeal against the judgment of a lower court that held and declared Akpatason as the party’s candidate in the February 23, National Assembly elections.
Adjoto claimed that he won the party’s primary election held in October 2018, but was denied the ticket by the party leadership which he alleged was also affirmed by the lower court.
The report said Justice Moore Abraham-Adumein-led three-member tribunal gave the judgement, holding that Akpatason was not the right candidate who emerged from the party primary. It held that as a result, Akpatason was not qualified to have contested for the February 23 national assembly election.
It was learnt that 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, according to the report, 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 reportedly 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.”
Justice Abraham-Adumein said the Osunbor committee was not properly constituted because it 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.”
It added that the committee ab initio ought not to hear the case. He further ruled 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.
He said his two colleagues, Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, who is the presiding justice and Justice Tunde Efotoye, agreed with the judgment. In his reaction, Omoh-Ige Adebayo, the counsel to Akpatason, said they would contest the judgment in the Supreme Court.
Excited, Adjoto said: “The judiciary is not only the last hope of the common man but also of the big man.”
He also promised to give more representation to his people, more than he has given to them at the state house of assembly.