Gov Oyetola Gboyega of Osun State
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, dismissed an appeal the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, filed to nullify the nomination and participation of the former Governor of Osun State, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola and his Deputy, Benedict Alabi, in the governorship election that held in the state on July 16, 2022.
A five-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Chima Nweze, dismissed the appeal as lacking in merit after it compelled the lawyer that appeared for the PDP, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, to withdraw it.
PDP had approached the Supreme Court, praying it to reinstate the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja which voided the nomination of Oyetola and his deputy, Alabi, as flag-bearers of the APC for the governorship election.
The high court, in the judgement that was delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite, based its decision on the ground that governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state who submitted Oyetola’s name and that of his deputy to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The court held that Buni acted in contravention of the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution when he held dual executive positions as the Governor of Yobe and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of APC.
It maintained that decisions taken by governor Buni, including the forwarding of the names of Oyetola and Alabi, to the INEC, amounted to a nullity in law.
The judgement followed a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/468/2022, which was filed by the PDP.
However, dissatisfied with the verdict, the APC went to the Court of Appeal and obtained an order that set it aside.
In the notice of appeal it filed through its team of lawyers led by Dr. Abiodun Layonu, SAN, APC, argued that the high court judgement was not only perverse, but occasioned grave miscarriage of justice against it.
It contended that the PDP lacked the requisite locus standi to instituted the action.
APC argued that going by the provision of section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022, only an aspirant that participated in the primary election that produced governor Oyetola and his deputy, could complain that either the Act or electoral guidelines of the political party, was not complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate for an election.
It maintained that section 284 (14) (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, only empowered a political party to challenge the action of iNEC, where the commission failed to comply with the provision of the Act in respect of nomination of its candidates.
The Appellant further insisted that PDP was bereft of the legal right to query issues that relate to the internal affair of another political party.
More so, APC, argued that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to adjudicate on PDP’s suit which it said was statute barred since the act complained of by the 1st Respondent (PDP), came into existence on or before March 18, 2022 and not March 25, 2022.
It argued that the trial court’s reliance on section 82 (3) 84 (13) and 29 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to disqualify its candidates was erroneous and perverse.
“That it did not admit anywhere that the members of the defunct Caretaker Committee/Extra-Ordinary Planning Committee(CCEPC) coordinated the primary that produced the 3rd and 4th respondents as the Appellant’s Governorship candidates and no such issue was raised by the PDP”, the APC added.
It, therefore, successfully persuaded the appellate court to vacate the high court judgement, a decision the Supreme Court upheld on Thursday.
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