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INEC withdraws Ondo lawmaker’s certificate of return

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Ondo State House of Assembly

Sixteen days after the inauguration of Ondo State House of Assembly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has retrieved the certificate of return issued to the lawmaker representing Okitipupa constituency, Mr. Sina Akinwunmi.

This was sequel to a High Court judgement, which ordered the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state to present the rightful candidate of the party to INEC.

Consequent upon this, a certificate of return was issued to Mr. James Ololade-Gbegudu yesterday as the authentic lawmaker representing Okitipupa, in line with the May 15, 2019 judgement of the election tribunal.

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Ololade-Gbegudu had approached the court, through his counsel, Mr. Femi Emodamori, to seek an order to compel the party and INEC to recognise him as the authentic APC candidate for the constituency.

While presenting the certificate to Ololade-Gbegudu at the commission’s headquarters, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said a letter had been issued to Akinwumi to vacate the seat with immediate effect.

Yakubu, who was represented by the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Francis Akeju, said Akinwunmi did not win the October 5 primary election of the party last year.

Revealing that the certificate given to him had been withdrawn, he said that the speaker and the clerk of the assembly had been ordered through a letter to comply with the judgement and swear in Ololade-Gbegudu as a member of the assembly.

Ololade-Gbegudu expressed delight at the judgement, saying that truth had prevailed after several months of injustice to his ambition to represent the constituency, pledging to serve his people diligently.

While delivering the judgement that lasted more than two hours on May 15, Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe held that all evidences before the court showed that Ololade-Gbegudu actually won the APC ticket.

The court also dismissed objection of the defendants that Ololade-Gbegudu’s case was filed out of time and was status-barred, noting that the suit was brought on December 22, 2018, which was within the 14 days allowed by the constitution.

It agreed with Ololade-Gbegudu’s lead counsel, Emodamori, that “the claimant (Ololade-Gbegudu) further avers that the total number of accredited voters at the said direct primary election as recorded by the representatives of the first defendant (APC) were 7,000 while the total valid votes were 6,500, out of which he (Ololade-Gbegudu) polled 4,000 to emerge winner of the primary.

“The fourth defendant (Akinwunmi) scored zero as attested to by the APC Ondo State Legislative Primaries Election Committee and the original Summary Result Sheet for the House of Assembly duly signed by Abuh Andrew Abuh and Ahmed Musa Momoh as the chairman and secretary of the committee.”


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