From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has lost its appeal at the Supreme Court seeking to restore the nullification of the participation of Osun State’s ex-Governor Gboyega Oyetola and his Deputy, Benedict Alabi, in the July 16, 2022 governorship election.
Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja had, in a judgment on September 30, 2022, nullified the participation of Oyetola and Alabi in the governorship election on the grounds that their nomination forms were endorsed by an acting Chairman of APC, who was also a serving governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
A five-member panel of the apex court in their unanimous judgment dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.
Justice Nwite’s judgment was set aside by the Court of Appeal, Abuja in a judgment in December last year, a decision the PDP appealed to the Supreme Court.
However, Justice Centus Nweze, who delivered the judgment, held that the appeal by the PDP was without merit and directed the lawyer to the PDP, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, to withdraw it.
The court held that the PDP could not, under the law, question the process leading to the emergence of Oyetola and Alabi as candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.
The judgment was on the appeal marked: SC/CV/1645/2022. The Court of Appeal had in its judgment upheld the appellants – the APC, Oyetola and Alabi – that the trial court erred in upholding the claim by the PDP.
The APC, Oyetola and Alabi argued, in their notices of appeal, argued that the trial court’s decision was perverse and occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice against it.
They contended that by the provision of section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022, it is only aspirants in the primary that produced Oyetola and Alabi that could complain that either the Act or electoral guidelines of the political party, were not complied with.
They added that the provision of Section 284 (14) (1) of the Constitution, 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 appellants argued that the PDP lacked the powers to challenge the nomination process of the APC, a position that deprived the trial court of the jurisdiction to hear the case.
They further argued that the trial court’s reliance on sections 82 (3) 84 (13) and 29 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to disqualify was erroneous and perverse.