The Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, yesterday, declared the purported governorship re-run primary election organised by some members of the state’s chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by Mr. Jimi Adebisi Lawal as illegal, unconstitutional and void.
The suit filed by the party and Oladipupo Adebutu with number FHC/AB/CS/220/2022 against Mr. Lawal and others came after the rerun primaries held on October 17, 2022, in clear disobedience to the PDP’s guidelines and provision of the 2022 Electoral Act. In the judgment delivered by Hon. Justice Akintayo Aluko, all three questions formulated in the Plaintiffs’ Originating Summons were resolved in favour of the PDP and Adebutu.
The court declared that the purported gubernatorial rerun primary election of the PDP in Ogun State conducted on October 17, 2022, was not conducted in compliance with the orders made by the Federal High Court, Abeokuta Division in Suit No: FHC/AB/CS/83/2022 between Prince Adesegun Seriki and Ors v INEC and Ors and Suit No: FHC/AB/CS/87/2022 between Taiwo Olabode Idris and Ors v PDP and Ors both of which were delivered on September 27, 2022.
The court further declared that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot validly accept the name of Mr. Lawal as the candidate of the PDP in Ogun State for the 2023 governorship election as the purported re-run governorship primary election is illegal, unconstitutional and void.
Recall that Lawal had approached the Federal High Court in Abeokuta with the application for a writ of Mandamus for the purpose of compelling INEC to accept the result of the rerun primary in suit No: FHC/AB/CS/222/2022 filed by Taiwo Olabode Idris and others (Jimi LAWAL’s cohorts) against INEC, which was struck out by the court on November 3, 2022.
More so, Austin Oniyokor, the Spokesman to Lawal told The Guardian on the phone that his principal would react appropriately when he received a copy of the judgment.
Oniyokor said the court did not serve them and that his principal was never represented in the case.
He also wondered why those who were never part of the rerun primaries went to court to challenge it.
Meanwhile, the Court nullified the candidature of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) governorship candidate in Ogun State, Biyi Otegbeye.
The court also sacked all the 26 State Assembly candidates of the party, noting that the primary elections, which produced Otegbeye and the Assembly candidates, were not monitored by the INEC.
The Labour Party (LP) in the state had dragged ADC candidates to court over alleged non-compliance to the Electoral Act in the conduct of the party’s primaries.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Aluko affirmed that the primary elections of the party were held in violation of the Electoral Act.
The court also noted that the candidature of Biyi Otegbeye and the ADC State Assembly candidates is against the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The court ruled that Otegbeye and the Assembly candidates are not valid candidates of ADC for the 2023 governorship and State Assembly elections.
The court, therefore, ordered INEC to expunge the names of Otegbeye and the 26 legislative candidates from the list of candidates cleared for next year’s elections.
Reacting, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd defendants (ADC and all the candidates), Tunde Falola hinted that the party would study details of the judgment and proceed on an appeal.
He said, “Constitutionally, every Nigerian, every party before the court whose judgment has been given against has the right, constitutional right to approach the higher court and ventilate his or her grievances.
“There are some areas, in which we feel we disagree with the judgment of his lordship that we intend to explore before the court of appeal.
There are some areas in which we feel that the positions of the lordship do not accord with the position of law, that is what we intend to explore.
The LP Legal Counsel, Monday Mawah described the judgment as a welcome development.
Mawah said, “Simply put, what transpired in court today is a victory for rule of law and democracy.
We brought an action to the court challenging the decision of INEC to countenance the list of candidates that purportedly emerged in primaries that never took place by the ADC.