Osun guber contest: Case to nullify Oyetola’s candidacy lacks merit —Supreme court


By Jeleel Olawale

The Supreme Court has explained why it dismissed an appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to nullify the candidacy of the immediate-past governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola in the July 16, 2022 governorship election.

A panel constituting a five-member and led by Justice Chima Nweze, on Thursday said the suit was dismissed because it lacks merit and compelled the PDP lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN to withdraw it.

The PDP had prayed to the apex court to affirm and reinstate the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which nullified the nomination of Oyetola and his deputy, Alabi, as standard bearers of the APC for the governorship election.

Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High court had voided the participation of Oyetola and Alabi on the ground that their nomination forms were endorsed by an acting chairman of the APC and serving Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.

In the suit marked, “FHC/ABJ/CS/468/2022, the court held that Buni acted in contravention of the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution when he held dual executive positions as the Governor and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the APC.”

It held that Buni who submitted Oyetola’s name and that of his deputy to the Independent National Electoral Commission (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 and that the decision amounted to a nullity in law.

Arguing through its team of lawyers led by Dr Abiodun Layonu SAN, APC, that the high court judgment was perverse and occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice against it, the party filed an appeal in December last year at Court of Appeal and obtained an order that set aside the judgment of the high court. The party contended that the PDP lacked the requisite locus standi to institute the action.

The Appellant further insisted that PDP was bereft of the legal right to dabble in the internal affairs of another political party.

Among others, the APC argued that according to section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022, only an aspirant that took part in the primary election in which Governor Oyetola and his Deputy emerged could complain that the selection and nomination of a candidate for an election did not comply with the Act or electoral guidelines of the political party.

It maintained that section 284 (14) (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, only allowed a political party to challenge the action of the electoral body INEC, where it failed to comply with the provision of the Act in respect of the nomination of its candidates.

Convinced, the High Court judgement was thereafter vacated by the appellate court and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court.