From Godwin Tsa and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
In a split decision of four to three, the Supreme Court, yesterday, affirmed the election of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as Ondo State Governor.
The apex court, in a majority judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, upheld Akeredolu’s election on the grounds that the appeal by Olutayo Jegede and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lacked merit since the appellants failed to include Yobe State Governor and Chairman Caretaker Committee of the All progressives Congress (APC), Mai Mala Buni, as party in the suit.
The majority decision agreed with the decision of the tribunal that failure of the appellants to include Buni was fatal to their case.
Justices Inyang Okoro, Mohammed Tijani Abubakar and Mohammed Garba all supported the majority decision.
However, the minority judgment led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, held that since APC is the principal and was made a party, there was no need to join Buni in the suit.
The minority decision said it was the position of the law that Buni being a sitting governor cannot be acting Chairman of APC and was, therefore, wrong to have submitted the name of Akeredolu to INEC as candidate of the APC.
Justices in the dissenting judgment also include Ejembi Eko and Ibrahim Saulawa.
Jegede congratulated Governor Akeredolu over the judgement, saying, “Now that we have explored the grievance procedure permitted by the constitution and the law, it is time to give glory to God. With this outcome, our respect and reverence for the judiciary and our justices of the supreme court has not diminished.”
The PDP, however, yesterday, insisted that the nomination of Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, as the candidate of the APC in the last governor poll in the state was illegal.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said this was because the Ondo State governor’s nomination by the APC leadership, led by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, was a violation of the 1999 Constitution ( as amended).
He said the the fact that there was a minority judgment validates its appeal that Akeredolu’s nomination was “an aberration.”