The Osun State High Court sitting in Osogbo has dismissed the suit filed by two members of the Peoples Democratic Party seeking to stop Senator Ademola Adeleke as the governorship candidate of the party in the coming election in the state.
The plaintiffs, Rasheed Olabayo and Idowu Oluwaseun, had filed the suit praying the court to restrain Adeleke from being presented as the governorship candidate of the party because he did not have the basic educational qualification required by the constitution for anyone seeking to contest governorship election.
But Justice David Oladimeji, who presided over the case – in the ruling he delivered on Wednesday, held that Adeleke satisfied the requirement of Section 177 (d) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which stated that a governorship candidate must be educated up to secondary school level or its equivalent.
The judge said even the plaintiffs admitted in their affidavit filed before the court that Adeleke attended Ede Muslim Grammar School now known as Ede Muslim High School.
Justice Oladimeji relied on the Supreme Court judgment on a similar case between Terver Kakih v. PDP, 2014 and Sections 318 (d) and 177 ( d).
He said with these authorities, a person did not need to possess a secondary school certificate to be eligible to contest governorship election but must have education up to secondary school level, which Adeleke and the plaintiffs had proved.
Based on this, he said the PDP candidate was qualified to contest the September 22 governorship election holding in the state.
He said, “I hold that the first defendant (Adeleke) needs not to pass the examination or posses the certificate before he can contest the election. The plaintiffs’ case is lacking in merit and it is accordingly dismissed.”
The judge, however, admitted that the plaintiffs did not raise the issue of certificate forgery in their originating summon and they could not bring same in their written address no matter how brilliantly crafted it may be because a written address could not be a substitute for it.
He stated, “The documents filed before the court contain serious damaging irregularities. The purported maker of the document should be called before they can be regarded as forged documents.
“Allegation of crime in a civil case needs to be proved beyond any reasonable doubt. I hold that the plaintiffs have not pleaded or proved forgery not to talk of proving it beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The judge had earlier resolved the issue of jurisdiction of the court and locus standi of the plaintiffs against the defendants while holding that the court had the competence to hear the suit and the two plaintiffs, being financial members of the PDP, had sufficient ground to institute the case.
Meanwhile, two delegates of the PDP had filed a fresh suit against Adeleke on the allegation of forgery.
The case was filed by Olagboye Adedamola and Oyetunji Suredi over the testimonial and statement of results presented by the senator to the Independent National Electoral Commission, which they claimed were fake documents.
The applicants premised their suit on Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act 2010, which gave powers to individuals to challenge in court any candidate who they suspected to have presented fake documents or false affidavits to the electoral body.
The plaintiffs prayed Justice Oladimeji for an abridged date for the respondents to appear after the service within seven days instead of 21 days and the court order to allow them to advertise all their applications in the national dailies.
In the new suit attached with seven exhibits and a 37-paragraph affidavit, the plaintiffs sought seven reliefs and asked the court to disqualify Adeleke from contesting the election as the governorship candidate of the PDP.
They specifically asked the court to bar Adeleke from the election “on account of ineligibility, false information and submission of false documents to INEC.”
But Adeleke, while reacting to the court ruling, appealed to the plaintiffs to join him in his bid to return the PDP as the ruling party in the state.
He said this in a statement made available to our correspondent in Osogbo by the Director of Publicity of his campaign organisation, Mr Rasheed Olawale.
“Today’s judgement is a divine window of opportunity for all members of PDP in Osun State to unite under this victory umbrella. I extend hands of fellowship and brotherhood to all aggrieved party members including those who took me court. Let us move forward.
“Political contest cannot be without grievances. We, however, must act beyond personal interests to consider the burden of leadership placed on all of us. Our followers are worried; they are fed up with the bickering and mudslinging. Now that all doubts have been cleared and rumours laid to rest. Let us now commence the active and arduous task of aggressive campaigning. We are all stakeholders in this victory and the coming victory in September by the grace of God!”