The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ondo state over recently-conducted primaries took a different twist on Friday when the party’s state House of Assembly candidate for Okitipupa II Constituency, Mr Ololade James Gbegudu dragged the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before the State High Court sitting in Akure for allegedly refusing to publish his name for the 2019 general election after winning the party’s primary.
A suit filed by Gbegudu’s counsel, Femi Emodamori, also joined APC State Chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, the party’s State Secretary, Sina Alaye, and an Assembly Aspirant, Sina Akinwunmi Emmanuel as defendants.
Ololade-Gbegudu, in the suit, said he instituted the case after APC and its officers refused to send his name to INEC in line with the 2010 Electoral Act having won the primary which was conducted by APC on 5th October, 2018 and duly monitored by the officials of INEC led by Etukumo U. Andrew, policemen and the Department of State Services, DSS, personnel.
Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe granted an application brought by the counsel to enable the claimant to serve INEC and the APC headquarters in Abuja and vowed to give the case an accelerated hearing in view of its nature.
The lawyer had urged the Court to declare as illegal the substitution of the claimant’s name with Akinwunmi’s name and compel INEC to recognise and publish Gbegudu’s name as the APC candidate for the Okitipupa Constituency II in the 2019 State House of Assembly election.
The Claimant averred that he won the direct primary for the Okitipupa Constituency II for the Ondo State House of Assembly with 4,000 votes to beat five other aspirants including Akinwunmi Emmanuel, whose name he claimed was wrongly submitted to INEC, by the party’s officials.
The Plaintiff’s lead Counsel, Mr Femi Emodamore, said, “the Claimant further avers that the total number of accredited voters at the said direct primary election as recorded by the representatives of the 1st Defendant (APC) were 7,000 while the total valid votes were 6,500, out of which he scored the 4,000 due to his overwhelming popularity at the constituency and was declared winner of the primary.”
Emodamore claimed that, “the 4th Defendant (Akinwunmi) in this case scored zero (0) as attested to by the APC Ondo State Legislative Primaries Election Committee. The Claimant shall in this regard rely on the original (counter-part) of the Summary Result Sheet for State House of Assembly duly signed by Abuh Andrew Abuh and Ahmed Musa Momoh as the Chairman and Secretary of the APC Ondo State Legislative Primaries Election Committee respectively and given to each of the candidates, including the Claimant”.
The Lawyer alleged that, “the falsified result, the name of the Claimant (Gbegudu Ololade James) is still visible in the certification column at the bottom of the Result Sheet as the winner. The Claimant’s name was however simply crossed out with a biro/pen (not even completely wiped or blurred out with paint) and on top of it was written in ink the words: WINNER-SINA AKINWUMI EMMANUEL, as against the proper certification column already printed in the Result Sheet”.
Emodamore said, “an order of mandatory injunction directing the 5th Defendant (INEC) to recognize, publish and/or treat the name of the Claimant as the candidate of the 1st Defendant (APC) for the Okitipupa Constituency II of the Ondo State House of Assembly for the general election for the said constituency seat scheduled to hold on 2/3/2019 or such other date(s) as the 5th Defendant may fix for the election.”