Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun has appealed the Federal High Court judgement that nullified his nomination as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the State.
This is as the Governor and his deputy have also filed an application before the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking to stay execution of the court judgment pending the final determination of the appeal.
Justice Emeka Nwite of the FHC, Abuja, had while delivering ruling in the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, invalidated the candidacy of Oyetola and his deputy, Benedict Alabi, on the grounds that Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, who submitted their names 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.
Oyetola and Alabi in an appeal filed by the APC through their counsels, Dr Abiodun Layonu (SAN) and Abdulfatai Oyedele, listed 19 grounds of appeal against the lower court judgment.
According to them, the decision of the Federal High Court was against the weight of evidence and constitutes a grave miscarriage of justice. They therefore asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling of the lower court and affirm their nominations as valid and lawful.
In the appeal, the governor and his deputy argued that all the actions taken by Governor Buni in respect of their nominations were valid and legally cognizable as it was in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
The appellants noted that the setting up of the defunct Caretaker Committee/Extra-ordinary Planning Committee (CCEPC) by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party did not violate provision of the Constitution and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The APC further argued that the PDP lacked the locus to commence the legal action against Governor Oyetola as the issue of nomination of candidate was an internal affair of political parties, hence does not concern the PDP.
“By the provision of Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act 2022, it is only an aspirant that participated in the primary election that can complain that the provision of the Electoral Act and the guidelines of the political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of candidate of a political party for an election.
“The issue of nomination and sponsorship of candidates of a political party is strictly an internal affair of a political party which is not justiciable. The 1st respondent (the PDP) therefore lacks the locus standi to bring any cause of action that relates to internal affairs of the appellant (APC),” it said.
Another ground of appeal filed by the appellant was that the suit initiated by the PDP had been caught by the Issue of Estoppel which indicates that where an issue has been decided by a competent court, the court will not allow it to be re-litigated by different parties.
“The principal issue raised by the 1st Respondent (PDP) before the trial court is whether the 3rd and 4th Defendants (Oyetola and his deputy) were validly nominated and sponsored for the Gubernatorial Election held in Osun on the 16th of July, 2022.
“This same issue involving the same parties have been laid to rest in the case of JEGEDE V. INEC (2021) 14 NWLR (1797) 409 and Plaintiff suit as presently constituted is a duplication, repetition and remake of what has been settled and decided by the Supreme Court in the said case.
“The provisions of Sections 180 and 183 of the Constitution upon which the decision of the Supreme Court in JEGEDE V. INEC was based is still very extant.”
The appellant therefore held that the suit filed by the PDP was an abuse of Court process and that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon it.
The APC also argued that the suit filed by the PDP was statute-barred as the party failed to file the case within the time frame stipulated by the Constitution, hence, the court lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon it.
“The law stipulates that every pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the date of occurrence of the event, decision and act complained of in the suit. The period within which to file action elapsed on the 31st of March, 2022, and the PDP filed the suit on 7 April.
“Therefore, the court lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the 1st respondent’s suit as the action was statute barred. The act complained of came into existence on or before 18th March, 2022 and not 25th March, 2022 as claimed by the 1st respondent.”