Mr James Ololade-Gbegudu has been declared by an Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure, as winner of the All Progressives Congress, APC, House of Assembly primary election for Okitipupa Constituency II. Ololade-Gbegudu had approached the court to seek an order to compel the party and INEC to recognise him as the authentic APC candidate for the constituency and not the lawmaker-elect, Mr Sina Akinwunmi, having won the party’s primary conducted on October 5, 2018. James delivering his judgement that lasted more than two hours, Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe held that all evidence laid before the court by officials of the APC, documentary evidence including the primary election result sheet adduced by Counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Femi Emodamori, showed that Ololade-Gbegudu actually won the APC assembly ticket.
Despite the judgement, Justice Adegbehingbe, however, declined to grant other reliefs of the plaintiff that certificate of return earlier issued to Mr Sina Akinwunmi be withdrawn and issues to him, stating that the court could not force the APC to recognise the plaintiff as its authentic candidate for the March 9, 2019 State Assembly polls.
The Court also ruled that Gbegudu’s case was not filed out of time and not status barred, noting that the suit brought on December 22nd, 2018 was still within 14 days allowed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The judge said section 87(4) of the Electoral Act (as amended) did not mandate the party to forward names of Direct Primary election winners to INEC, adding that the party might choose not to forward such names as candidate.