An appeal filed by the Senator representing Ondo South Senatorial District, Nicholas Tofowomo against the former Deputy Governor and the Peoples Democratic Party candidate for Ondo South Senatorial District in the 2023 general elections, Chief Alfred Agboola Ajayi, has been dismissed by the Supreme Court on Friday.
Senator Tofowomo had appealed the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Akure Judicial Division delivered on November 30, 2022, by Justice A. O. Lokulo-Sodipe.
The lower court delivered its judgment on November 30, 2022, where it dismissed the Appellant’s case on the ground that the same is statute-barred.
The summary of the matter is that Agboola Ajayi and Tofowomo are members of the same political party, PDP. The duo along with three others contested the primary election of the party for Ondo South Senatorial District on May 23, 2022. Ajayi was declared the winner having received the majority of the lawful votes of 78 as against Tofowomo's 74 votes.
On June 13, 2022, Tofowomo through his counsel, Femi Emmanuel Emodamori Esq, wrote to the National Chairman of the party on the need to disqualify Ajayi based on the allegations that he made false declarations in his forms submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
On July 5, 2022, over 20 days after the alleged occurrence of the act complained of and more than a week after the expiration of the constitutional allowance of 14 days, Tofowomo filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Akure, to challenge Ajayi's emergence as the PDP candidate for Ondo South Senatorial District.
The trial court and the lower court after a thorough examination and consideration of the 1st Respondent’s written address and brief of argument of the parties in respect of the Appeal at the lower court dismissed the Appellant’s case.
It relied on Section 285(9) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the cases of KARSHI V GWAGWA (2022) and other relevant authorities.
The Court of Appeal held that by Exhibit FEE2 attached to the Appellant’s affidavit at the trial court, the Plaintiff/Appellant’s time began to run from June 9, 2022 or June 13, 2022 based on Exhibits AA4 and PDP3 when the acts complained of by the Appellant against the 1st Respondent occurred or took place.
As such the case of the appellant is statute-barred having filed the case on the 5th of July, 2022, that is 27 or 23 days after the alleged occurrence of the act complained of and 13 or 10 days after the expiration of the constitutional allowance of 14 days. The Court of Appeal affirmed the Judgment of the trial court dismissing the Appellant’s case for being statute barred.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal dismissing his appeal against Ajayi, Tofowomo further appealed to the Supreme Court in a suit numbered SC/CV/1526/2022.
However, in a unanimous judgement delivered by Honourable Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim on Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on the basis that the case is statute-barred. It noted the cause of action accrued on the date the form was submitted to the 3rd Respondent (INEC) and fined Senator Tofowomo N500,000.