By Akeem Abas
The Appeal Court sitting in Ibadan on Monday restored Rep. Oladipupo Adebutu as the validly elected governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun.
The appellate court also reinstated the three senatorial, nine House of Representatives and 26 House of Assembly candidates of PDP, who all emerged through the party’s primaries.
All the reinstated candidates had emerged from the party’s primaries conducted by the National Working Committee (NWC) and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that Justice O.O Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Abeokuta, had on Sept. 27 voided the primaries that produced Adebutu and others.
NAN reports that Justice Oguntoyinbo, in his judgment, directed the party to conduct fresh primaries within 14 days.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the PDP, through its counsel, appealed the verdict and asked the Appellate Court to set aside the lower court’s decision.
In the same vein, Adebutu also affected by the judgment of the lower court filed an appeal CA/IB/411/411A/2022 against the judgment of Oguntoyinbo.
Justice Nimpar Yargata of the Appeal Court, in her judgment, said the trial court fell into error by nullifying the primaries, which produced Adebutu, having been conducted by the NWC of the party.
Yargata said that Taiwo Olabode Idris and others who instituted the case at the lower court were not aspirants of the party and consequently had no locus standi to challenge the outcome of the primaries.
She said that the court’s decision in APC versus Umar, which the respondents relied heavily upon in their submissions before the court, had been overtaken by the current provision of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The provision of the Electoral Act, 2022 says only aspirant can query the outcome of primaries elections.
The judge declared that only the NWC of the party and not the State Working Committee has the power to conduct primaries as spelt out in Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution.
Yargata pointed out a contradiction in the respondents’ relief of a declaration to pronounce Mr Jimi Lawal as the Governorship candidate.
The judge said that those who filed the initial suit had no stand in law to so do as the issue of primary was not a human rights matter.
She said trial court “went on a frolic on its own” by voiding the primaries of Adebutu, describing Adebutu’s appeal as meritorious.
Yargata resolved all issues in favour of Adebutu and set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court with all orders made therein.
Three earlier judgments of the same court in the appeals by the PDP and the cross appeals by the respondents in the suit filed at the lower court by Prince Segun Seriki against the PDP
Justice Folasade Ojo of the Appeal Court had earlier, in a judgment, nullified the parallel primaries conducted by Seriki and others.
She had described the primaries, which purportedly produced any other governorship candidate other than Adebutu and other candidates, as “an unlawful gathering”.
Muyiwa Obanewa, one of the Counsel to the appellant, described the various judgments as well considered, saying the coast was now cleared for Adebutu and others to continue their campaign for elections.