From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has dismissed a suit filed by an aggrieved candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP), Jimi Adebisi-Lawal, against the emergence of Oladipupo Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party in Ogun State.
Both Lawal and Adebutu emerged from parallel party primaries as the governorship candidate of the party for the 2023 governorship election in the state.
In a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/773/22, Lawal had sued the PDP, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Mr Oladipupo Adebutu as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively
In his Judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the plaintiff did not provide concrete evidence to support his claim that an unlawful delegate list was used by the PDP to conduct the April 30, ward congress in Ogun.
Justice Ekwo said by filling the suit, Lawal was only playing the role of a spoiler as the suit was a product of an afterthought.
“I have no reason to say that the primary election was invalid, null and void.
“Upon reviewing the evidence, I find that the plaintiff attempted to use a further affidavit to amend his originating summons.
“The case of the plaintiff has been debunked by exhibits of the defendants.
“I find that the case of the plaintiff lacks credible evidence and I make an order dismissing the case,” the judge said.
Lawal, who contested the May 25 governorship primary poll of the PDP, had challenged the emergence of Adebutu as the party’s candidate.
He alleged that an unlawful delegates list was used by the party to conduct its election.
Lawal, among others, had prayed that the purported primary election of May 25 be cancelled and another be conducted with the authentic ad-hoc delegates.
Justice Taiwo, in his judgment delivered on July 29, held that the primary election was a domestic affair of any political party.
Not satisfied, Lawal approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja with a prayer that the decision of the FHC be voided and set aside on the ground of miscarriage of justice.
A three-man panel of justices of the Court of Appeal in their judgment delivered on September 30, agreed with Jimi Lawal, set aside the judgment of the FHC and ordered that the suit be heard on its merit.
The PDP, also not satisfied with the Court of Appeal’s decision, approached the Supreme Court, praying that the judgment of the Federal High Court be upheld to the effect that the conduct of the primary election is its domestic affair.
The Supreme Court, on Monday, dismissed an appeal brought before it by the PDP.
The apex court ordered that the suit instituted by Lawal be remitted to the FHC for a fresh trial.
Delivering Judgement, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa held that the FHC was wrong in declining jurisdiction in the matter of Lawal.
The apex Court agreed with the Court of Appeal in Abuja that the FHC had jurisdiction under Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 84 [14) of the Electoral Act, 2022 to hear the matter on its merit.
The Supreme Court, therefore, ordered that the case be remitted to the Chief Judge of the FHC for determination by another judge other than Justice Taiwo who refused to entertain the suit.