Appeal Court voids disqualification of Ize-Iyamu’s running mate

The Court of Appeal in Benin has set aside the judgement of the lower court that nullified the candidacy of Ganiyu Audu, the running mate to the All Progressives Congress (APC) flagbearer, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in the 2020 governorship election in Edo State.

Oshoakpemhe Kadiri, a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had filed a suit in the state High court against Mr Audu, whom he said was not qualified to be Mr Ize-Iyamu’s running mate.

The High Court judge, Helen Courage-Ogbebor, in her judgement, held that Mr Audu presented false information to INEC in his Form EC9 and, therefore, was not eligible to contest the election.

But Mr Audu approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the lower court’s ruling.

Following the trial court’s decision, the APC governorship candidate, Mr Ize-iyamu, also filed an application to set aside the judgement of the lower court and dismiss the suit filed by Mr Oshoakhemhe.

The three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, while delivering judgement on Monday, unanimously said the appeal was meritorious.

Reading the judgement, Justice Biobele Georgewill said “the judgement of the trial court delivered on January 6 which disqualified the appellant and Audu Ganiyu from contesting respectively as governor and deputy governor is set aside”.

In setting aside the judgement of the High Court, the Appeal Court considered some salient issues in arriving at its decision.

First, the Appeal Court held that failure to add INEC as a party in the suit was fatal and that the Appeal Court has the right to assume jurisdiction and resolve the issue against the appellant.

Secondly, the court held that the matter was statute barred as the electoral act stipulated seven days in Section 31 (3) and 289 of the Constitution. Therefore, the matter was filed two days out of time, the court said.

The court also held that it did not find any proof of forgery or false statements and, therefore, cleared Mr Audu of any wrongdoing.

The Chairman of the three Appeal Court justices was Justice Folayemi Omoleye, assisted by Justices Biobele Georgewill and Fred Oho.

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