The Court of Appeal has affirmed the candidature and nomination of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the July 16 governorship election in Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola and his running mate, Benedict Alabi.
Oyetola and Alabi are the immediate past Governor and Deputy Governor of Osun.
The Appeal Court sets aside the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite, nullifying the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi as the APC governorship and deputy governorship candidates and awarded a sum of N200,000 to be paid to the appellants.
Recall that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had on September 30, 2022, nullified the nomination of Oyetola and his running mate, Alabi on the grounds that Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, 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 2022.
In his judgment, Justice Emeka Nwite agreed with the submissions of the Plaintiff’s counsel and declared as null and void, the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi by the APC.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through its counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, had in the suit dragged Governor Buni and four others before the court challenging the nomination and sponsorship of Oyetola and his running mate as the duly nominated candidates of the APC.
But the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, in appeal no: CA/ABJ/CV/1099/2022 between Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola & Anor v PDP & Ors, authenticated the nomination of the duo.
In allowing the appeal filed by Oyetola and his party, APC, the Court of Appeal held that outcome of a governorship primary is a collective decision of a party, through its congress, and constitutional challenge or deformity of any officer of the party cannot render it illegal.
The Court, therefore, held that notwithstanding the defects in the letter forwarding the nomination and sponsorship of Oyetola and his running mate to INEC, the fact that they emerged from a valid primary cannot be ruled out; thus, the defect of Buni signing the letter conveying the nomination of the appellants cannot be a ground to reject the results and desire of party’s primary election.
Regarding the question of immunity of Governor Mai Mala Buni, who submitted the nomination of the Appellants to the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), the Court equally held that Buni cannot be sued because the immunity enjoyed by him guaranteed him against civil and criminal suits.
In the ruling which lasted more than one hour, the appellate court questioned Justice Nwite for his failure not to consider a classical precedent judgement delivered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Jegede v INEC before he arrived at his judgement.
The Court of Appeal came hard on the High Court Judge and awarded the cost of N200,000 in favour of the Appellants.
With this judgement, the coast is now clear for Oyetola to concentrate on his petition at the Tribunal challenging the declaration of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the winner of the July 16 governorship election in Osun State
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