…says matter already settled by Supreme Court
Counsel to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun, Mr Ibrahim Lawal, has described as charade and preposterous, ruling of a Federal High Court nullifying the nomination of the governor as the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s candidate in the 16 July governorship election.
He said the judgment was dead on arrival, noting that a final verdict had been pronounced by the Supreme Court in a similar matter last year.
Lawal who described the case filed by the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as a nullity, distraction and deliberate plot by the PDP to scuttle the substantive case of the petitioners, Governor Oyetola and the APC before the Tribunal.
The legal practitioner said these while reacting to some issues raised on a radio programme in Osogbo, on Monday.
Lawal expressed confidence in the ability of the legal team of Governor Oyetola to overturn the judgment of the Federal High Court saying that “we are 100 percent convinced that this decision of the Federal High Court against our client can not see the light of the day.”
The Counsel argued that the decision and the consequence of nominating a candidate rests in the Congress of the Party at the State level as affirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Eyitayo Jegede and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in 2021.
According to him, the judgment was clear as to the issue of sponsorship and nomination of candidates and one cannot substitute any other ground except as stated in Section 177 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said the action which the Federal High Court pronounced was statue barred as the decision the court was talking about had happened in March as against April when the matter was brought before it.
Lawal further argued that the petitioners did not file their process until April clearly 14 days after the time they were supposed to file their matter and as such, the Court shouldn’t have entertained it in the first place.
“These are the issues we brought to court but for reasons best known to the judge, with due respect to the judge of the Federal High Court, they ruled otherwise.
“The reason we have layers of the Court was that when you are dissatisfied with a judgment of Lower Court, you go to another Court, and Electoral Act is very clear, when a matter is at the Court nothing can be done on it until it gets to a final stage, the status quo remained.
“By the grace of God, we are filing a notice of appeal tomorrow challenging the ruling because the decision taken by the Federal High Court, in the eye of the law is perverse and against the established principle of law that had been laid down by the Supreme Court.
“We are not deterred and it has nothing to do with the issue that is ongoing at the tribunal. What we call judicial precedents are the facts that the sanctity of the laws had settled some cases by higher courts and the lower court can not go in contrary. When there are established decisions of the superior court, no lower court can go in contrary, any court that does so has committed what we called judicial rascality.
“So, I am very sure that this matter will be set aside by the Court of Appeal.
“In whatever form you look at it, that decision of the Federal High Court cannot stand in the case of Eyitayo Jegede and Independent National Electoral Commission INEC. It is a 2021 decision and there was no other decision after it.
“The decision and the consequence of nominating a candidate rests in the Congress of the Party at the State level and they are not challenging the Congress, they are not saying that the Congress was not properly conducted, the only grouse they said they have was that it was Buni that signed. That has been settled by the Supreme Court.
“That the fact that somebody has to write and sign, doesn’t confer or nullify whatever the decision that had been taken. You can imagine, even it upsets common sense, party members gathered themselves in the State Capital, Osogbo and elected their representative and you now want to nullify that election because someone somewhere sat and recommended that decision and communicated the decision that was taken in Osun State to INEC and you say on the basis of that it could not stand.
“What is law? The Supreme Court also said that when you talk about somebody holding an executive position, because the argument was that when Mala Buni was holding executive position as the Governor and acting Chairman of the party, the executive position has been clearly stated by the Constitution. The Chairman of a political party is not one of them. There were issues . These are the issues that have been settled by the Court of Appeal and affirmed by the Supreme Court.
” I am saying that the decision as a matter of concern did not follow the law because the law has established in the decision of the Supreme Court in Eyitayo Jegede and Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in 2021. It is very clear, that is why we are 100 percent convinced that this decision can not see the light of the day.
“Whether PDP joins the name of Mala Buni in their case or not, it is inconsequential, the case had been settled by Supreme Court, it is not their inability to join Mala Buni that made the case failed, no, it wasn’t, it was because the lead and majority judgment says it was wrong for anybody to begin to challenge the nomination of a candidate based on mere signature, it has been discussed that nomination of a candidate stands and end at the State Congress that candidate emerged.
“On the potential impact of the judgement on the case at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, that cannot in anyway prevent the tribunal.
“I think the antics of the opposition is to ensure that we are destabilised and we will not be focused on the tribunal matter, but that has failed because what they are having at hand is nothing but a judgement that is dead on arrival”, he assured.