A Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed a former governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, and his deputy, Benedict Alabi, as the authentic candidates of the All Progressives Congress in the July 16 governorship election.
In the appeal, marked CA/ABJ/CV/1099/2022, the court held that the outcome of a governorship primary was the collective decision of a party, through its congress, and could not be rendered illegal by a constitutional challenge by any officer of the party.
It was decided that, despite sending Oyetola and his deputy’s nomination and sponsorship to INEC, the letter’s errors made it impossible to rule out the possibility that they had won a legitimate primary.
The appellate court also questioned Justice Nwite for failing to consider a well-known precedent issued by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Jegede v. INEC before reaching his decision.
On the immunity of the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who submitted the nomination of the appellant to the Independent National Electoral Commission, the court held that Buni could not be sued as the immunity enjoyed by him guaranteed him against civil and criminal suits.
The Court of Appeal also awarded the cost of N200,000 to the appellant. The People’s Democratic Party had sued Buni and four others, challenging the nomination of Oyetola and his running mate as the duly nominated candidates of the APC.
On September 30, 2022, the Federal High Court in Abuja nullified the nomination of the former Osun governor and his deputy.
Justice Emeka Nwite, agreeing with the submissions of the plaintiff’s counsel, had declared null and void the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi by the APC.
The judgment was predicated on the ground that Buni, who submitted their names to INEC, violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82 (3) of the Electoral Act of 2022.
Going by the ruling, the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja nullifying the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi as the APC candidates in the governorship election has been set aside.
Meanwhile, the PDP, through its spokesperson, Debo Ologunagba, said its lawyers would do justice to the judgment and, at the appropriate time, take the next line of action.
Ologunagba said, “The PDP will study the judgment, and then we will take appropriate action.” We don’t react to actions in the media. We are a law-abiding party, and we respect the integrity of the judge. We have not read the judgment as a party; our lawyers will do justice to that.