The Court of Appeal in Abuja has upheld the judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), affirming the qualification of Dapo Abiodun to run for the office of Ogun State governor under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The appellate court, in a unanimous judgment of a three-man panel, held on Monday that the appeal by Abdulrafiu Adesina Baruwa, was without merit.
The panel, headed by Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya, equally upheld the reasoning of Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the High Court of the FCT in Apo, who in the earlier judgment, dismissed the case for lacking in merit.
The Court of Appeal agreed with Abiodun’s lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) that the suit was filed outside the 14 days provided for the commencement of pre-election cases under the 4th Alteration of Act of 2017.
Ogunwumiju had, at the hearing of the appeal, argue that the refusal by the Gov-elect to include his university qualification in the Form CF001 he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not amount to a breach of Section 31(6) of the Electoral Act, 2010.
He insisted that Abiodun was qualified to contest the election, having met the requirements under sections 177 and 182 of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Adeniyi had, in his judgment, held that Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution cannot be invoked to disqualify Abiodun, because participation in the NYSC scheme is not a condition for qualification to contest the governorship election.
The judge equally held that Abiodun’s failure to include his university qualification in the Form CF 001 he submitted to INEC could not be used to nullify his nomination in view of the constitutional provision that a minimum qualification of secondary school is required for the governorship election, which Abiodun claimed he possessed.
Justice Adeniyi, therefore, held that the plaintiff’s case was unmeritorious and dismissed it.
Baruwa, who came second behind Abiodun in the primary conducted by APC before the governorship election, had sued and prayed the court to disqualify Abiodun from the race for allegedly giving “false information” in the academic qualification he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The plaintiff told the court that Abiodun declared only his West African School Certificate (1978) in the Form CF001 submitted to INEC on October 23, 2018.
He stated that Abiodun had, while contesting the Ogun East Senatorial seat in 2015, claimed to have attended the University of Ife, (graduating in 1986) and Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, Georgia, US (1989).
Baruwa argued that Abiodun’s exclusion of his university qualifications from the personal information he presented to INEC for the 2019 governorship election, amounted to providing false information.