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Osun Election: Oyetola appeals judgment nullifying governorship candidacy

Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has appealed the Federal High Court’s judgment that nullified his nomination as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the July 16 governorship election in Osun.

This is contained in a statement by his chief press secretary, Ismail Omipidan, on Wednesday.

The statement also said the governor and his deputy filed an application before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, seeking to stay execution of the court’s judgment pending the final determination of the appeal.

Justice Emeka Nwite of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Friday, nullified Mr Oyetola’s candidature and that of his deputy, Benedict Alabi, following the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Yobe Governor Mai Mala-Buni

Mr Nwite ruled that Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, who submitted their names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), violated section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

The statement, however, said Messrs Oyetola and Alabi, in an appeal filed by the APC through their counsel, Abiodun Layonu (SAN) and Abdulfatai Oyedele, listed 19 grounds of appeal against the lower court’s judgment.

The appellants described the court’s judgment as a miscarriage of justice and, therefore, urged the Court of Appeal to set aside the lower court’s ruling and affirm their nominations as valid and lawful.

In the appeal, the governor and his deputy argued that all the actions taken by Mr Buni regarding their nominations were valid and legally recognisable, saying they complied with the Electoral Act 2022 and the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

The statement further argued that the PDP lacked the locus to commence the legal action against Mr Oyetola as the candidate nomination issue was an internal affair of the APC.

“By the provision of Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act 2022, it is only an aspirant that participated in the primary election that can complain that the provision of the Electoral Act and the guidelines of the political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of candidate of a political party for an election,” the statement said. “The issue of nomination and sponsorship of candidates of a political party is strictly an internal affair of a political party which is not justiciable.”

According to the statement, another ground of appeal filed by the appellant is that the suit initiated by the PDP had been taken care of by the issue of “Estoppel,“ which indicates that where a competent court has decided an issue, the court will not allow it to be re-litigated by different parties.

PDP logo used to illustrate the story

“The principal issue raised by the 1st Respondent (PDP) before the trial court is whether the 3rd and 4th defendants (Oyetola and his deputy) were validly nominated and sponsored for the gubernatorial election held in Osun on the 16th of July, 2022,” the statement noted. “This same issue involving the same parties has been laid to rest in the case of JEGEDE V. INEC (2021) 14 NWLR (1797) 409, and plaintiff suit as presently constituted is a duplication, repetition and remake of what has been settled and decided by the Supreme Court in the said case.”

It further explained that sections 180 and 183 of the constitution upon which the decision of the “Supreme Court in JEGEDE V. INEC was based is still very extant.”

The appellant, therefore, held that the suit filed by the PDP was an abuse of court process and that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to adjudicate it.

It also argued that the suit filed by the PDP was statute-barred as the party failed to file the case within the time frame stipulated by the constitution. Hence the court lacked the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon it.

“The law stipulates that every pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the date of occurrence of the event, decision and act complained of in the suit. The period within which to file action elapsed on the 31st of March, 2022, and the PDP filed the suit on 7 April,” the statement further pointed out. “Therefore, the court lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the 1st respondent’s suit as the action was statute barred. The act complained of came into existence on or before 18th March, 2022 and not 25th March, 2022 as claimed by the 1st respondent.”


Source: Peoples Gazette.