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Few hours after the Appeal Court in Ibadan reinstated Oladipupo Adebutu as the validly elected governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, his political rival , Jimi Lawal said it is not yet Uhuru for him
The court reinstated the three senatorial candidates, nine House of Representatives and 26 House of Assembly candidates who all emerged from the primaries of the party conducted by the National Working Committee (NWC) and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Reacting to the appeal court judgement, Lawal said he would take the matter to the Supreme court to seek redress on the suit challenging the candidature of Adebutu and others .
The statement issued by Project Director, Jimi Adebisi Lawal Campaign Organization, Austin Oniyokor read this “We just got the news of the decisions of the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan in respect of CA/IB/411/2022 and CA/IB/411A/2022.
“Although the outcomes went against our wish, we are comforted by the fact our judicial process allows for appeal up to the Supreme Court and we do intend to exercise our right of appeal.
“Recall that our friends also appealed to the Supreme Court when we (won) defeated them at the Court of Appeal in Abuja on the 30th of September, 2022, culminating in the judgment given in our favour by the Supreme Court on the 21st of November, 2022.
“Flowing from the above, our legal team has taken steps to file a (stay of execution of the instant judgment as well as)* Notice of Appeal.
“While we go through the final phase of the legal process, we wish to urge our faithful delegates, party members, supporters, leaders and elders to remain resolute and steadfast, knowing full well that this struggle is not a sprint but a marathon. Let us keep the faith and our eyes on the ball in spite this momentary distraction. It is not over until we win.”
Recall that Justice O O Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, had on September 27 voided the primaries which produced Adebutu and others, directed the conduct of fresh primaries within 14 days.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the PDP through its counsel, appealed the verdict and asked the Appellate Court to set aside the lower court decision.
In the same vein, Adebutu also affected by the judgment of the lower court filed an appeal CA/IB/411/411A/2022 against the judgment of Justice Oguntoyinbo.
Delivering judgment in the appeal in Ibadan, Justice Nimpar Yargata said the trial court fell into error by nullifying the primaries which produced Adebutu, having been conducted by the NWC of the party.
Yargata said the Taiwo Olabode Idris and others who instituted the case at the lower court were not aspirants of the party and consequently had no locus to challenge the outcome of the primaries.
She said the court’s decision in APC versus Umar which the respondents relied heavily upon in their submissions before the court had been overtaken by current provision in the Electoral Act 2022 which says only aspirants can query the outcome of primaries elections.
The Judge declared that only the NWC of the party and not the State Working Committee has the power to conduct primaries as spelt out in Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution.
The Judge pointed out a contradiction in the respondents’ relief of a declaration to pronounce Mr Jimi Lawal as the guber candidate, saying those who filed the initial suit had no stand in law to so do as the issue of primary was not a human rights matter.
She said trial court “went on a frolic on its own” by voiding the primaries of Adebutu, describing Adebutu’s appeal as meritorious.
After resolving all issues in favour of Adebutu and allowing his appeal, Justice Yargata set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court and all the orders made therein.
Three similar earlier judgments of the same court in the appeals by the PDP and the cross appeals by the respondents in the suit filed at the lower court by Prince Segun Seriki against the PDP, Justice Folasade Ojo had described the parallel primaries (conducted by Seriki and others) which purportedly produced any other guber candidate other than Adebutu and other candidates as “an unlawful gathering.”
On issue of the lower court granting reliefs not sought by the plaintiffs in the original suit, Justice Ojo cautioned that the court should allowed allow itself to be used to aid illegality, adding that Justice Oguntoyinbo “descended into the area” by ordering fresh primaries in the party within 14 days.
The Judge said the lower court Judge having handled the matter in an “incurably bad” manner, allowed the appeals and set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court.
With all the five appeals that emanated from the judgment of September 27 having been resolved in favour of Adebutu and PDP, the court has cleared the way for him and others as validly elected candidates.
Speaking on the decisions of the Appellate Court, one of the counsels for the appellant, Muyiwa Obanewa, described the various judgments as well considered, saying the coast is now clear for Adebutu and others to continue their campaign for elections.
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