January 24, 2023

Ogun Gov Poll: Supreme Court affirms Adebutu as PDP candidate




...dismisses appeals by Lawal, aggrieved delegates

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, affirmed Oladipupo Adebutu as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, for the forthcoming governorship election in Ogun State.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-man panel of justices, dismissed an appeal that was lodged before it by an aggrieved gubernatorial aspirant of the party in the state, Jimi Adebisi Lawal.

Lawal had gone to court to challenge the list of delegates that was used in the conduct of the gubernatoral primary election the party held in the state on May 25, 2022.

He contended that the list, which he said contained names of political appointees,  was not in tandem with names of delegates that were democratically elected at the ward congresses.

Consequently, the appellant, among other things, sought a court order to invalidate the outcome of the said primary election and for an order to compel the PDP to conduct a fresh one.

He further prayed court to nullify the nomination of Adebutu’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

However, both the Federal High Court and the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, dismissed the case for want of merit.

Trial Justice Inyang Ekwo of the high court held that Lawal failed to establish his allegation that the primary election was not conducted in compliance with the 1999 Constitution, as amended, section 84(1), (2), (5b) and (8) of the Electoral Act 2022, as well as Article 25 (1a) and (2c) of the PDP Constitution.

The court held that evidence before it proved that Adebutu duly won the indirect primary election that was organised by the party and monitored by INEC, having polled a total of 714 votes.

It held that contrary to the plaintiff’s claim, the PDP, through its Ogun State Chairman, had before the primary election, tendered to the INEC, a 3-man ad-hoc delegates list that emerged from each Ward in the state.

More so, the court held that evidence before it showed that the plaintiff decamped from the All Progressives Congress, APC, and joined the PDP in March 2022, and was subsequently allowed to contest the primary election.

“I find that the plaintiff is merely playing the role of a spoiler in the affairs of the 1st defendant (PDP)”, Justice Ekwo added.

Following the dismissal of his case by the Court of Appeal, Lawal, took the matter before the Supreme Court where he also lost on Tuesday.

The apex court equally dismissed three other appeals that were lodged before it by some aggrieved PDP ward delegates in Ogun State for failure to disclose a reasonable cause of action.

The Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun led panel held that the delegates, who claimed to have been disenfranchised in the primary election that produced Adebutu as flag-bearer of the PDP, could not initiate any court action against the outcome of the election since they were not aspirants.

According to the Supreme Court, only an aspirant that participated in a primary election conducted for the purpose of nominating candidates of a political party, can lawfully challenge the outcome.