APC, Oyetola escape disqualification from Saturday’s Osun governorship election

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed a suit seeking disqualification of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Osun State Governor, Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola from the State Governorship election slated for Saturday.

Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo dismissed the suit on six grounds that the plaintiff, a Chieftain of the APC, Moshood Olalekan Adeoti failed to disclose any cause of action.

The Judge held that the suit instituted by the former governorship aspirant constituted a gross abuse of the court process and that the plaintiff did not exhaust the internal mechanism for dispute resolution before rushing to court.

Justice Ekwo in his ruling upheld the arguments of Olusegun Jolaawo SAN, that membership of the APC National Caretaker Extraordinary and Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) by governor Oyetola on which the suit is predicated is an ad-hoc body and not the real APC National Executive Committee (NEC) recognized by the party’s Constitution.

Adeoti had sought disqualification of the incumbent governor, Gboyega Oyetola from the gubernatorial poll alongside the party on the grounds of failure to follow due process of law during the conduct of the primary election for the nomination of the gubernatorial candidate.

In the originating summons, Adeoti prayed the court to nullify Oyetola’s candidacy on the grounds that the governor contested in the February 19 primary election as a member of the APC’s National Caretaker Extraordinary and Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).

The plaintiff said the act of Oyetola contravened the provisions of Section 222 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 31(iii) of the APC, October 2014 (as amended).

But the Judge in his ruling held that CECPC is not the same as the officially recognized APC Constitution upon which anybody can be disqualified.

Specifically, Justice Ekwo said that CECPC is a mere ad-hoc body put in place in the absence of the National Executive Committee known to law.

Besides, the Judge agreed that the issue of nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties is an internal affair of parties which no court can inquire into except where expressly stated by law.

Justice Ekwo wondered why Adeoti resorted to court action after fully participating in the primary election, scored some votes and lost to Oyetola adding that his action amounted to approbating and reprobating at the same time against the provisions of the law

The Judge said from the totality of the evidence placed before the court and questions raised for determination, the plaintiff did not disclose any cause of action.

Justice Ekwo subsequently dismissed the suit on six grounds.

The plaintiff in the suit and a chieftain of the APC, Moshood Adeoti, had filed the matter through his legal team led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chiesonu Okpoko.

Adeoti, a candidate of former governor Rauf Aregbesola, the incumbent Minister of Interior was one of the aspirants who lost the APC governorship ticket to Governor Oyetola of Bola Ahmed Tinubu faction of APC during the party’s primary held on February 19.

In the originating summons, Adeoti had prayed the court to nullify Oyetola’s candidacy on the grounds that the governor contested in the poll as a member of the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary and Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).

The plaintiff said the act contravened the provisions of Section 222 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 31(iii) of the APC, October 2014 (as amended).

According to him, the second defendant (Oyetola) ought to have resigned his membership of the APC’s CECPC and leave office as an officer of APC at least 30 days prior to the date of the Osun State primary election, to qualify for participation in the said party primary election.

Governor Oyetola is seeking a second term of office by another four years, having won the last election held in 2018.

The governorship election is billed for Saturday, July 16.