The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to nullify the nomination and participation of Gboyega Oyetola and his Deputy, Benedict Alabi of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the Osun State governorship election held 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 Mr Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, the PDP’s lawyer 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 had in its judgement that was delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite, based its decision on the ground that the APC Caretaker Committee, which 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 appointment of Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state, as the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee was 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 Buni, including the forwarding of the names of Oyetola and Alabi, to the INEC, amounted to a nullity in law.
However, the APC went to the Court of Appeal to set the High Court’s judgement aside, arguing that the high court judgement was not only perverse but occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice against it. It contended that the PDP lacked the requisite locus standi to institute 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 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 the nomination of its candidates.
The party also stated that PDP has no legal right to query issues that relate to the internal affair of another political party while 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 PDP came into existence on or before March 18, 2022, and not March 25, 2022.
It argued that the trial court’s reliance on sections 82 (3) 84 (13) and 29 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to disqualify its candidates was erroneous and perverse.