Ismaeel Uthman, Yusuf Oketola
ALHAJI Moshood Adeoti, a governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State of Osun, has rejected the judgement of an Abuja Federal High Court which dismissed the suit he filed to challenge the eligibility of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola to partake in the February 19, 2022 governorship primary of the party.
Adeoti, had gone to court to seek Oyetola’s disqualification as the APC flagbearer in tomorrow’s gubernatorial election on the ground that the governor did not resign his membership of the party’s National Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee as at the time he was contesting the gubernatorial ticket of the party.
In the originating summons, Adeoti prayed the court to nullify Oyetola’s candidacy on the grounds that the governor contested in the poll as a member of the party’s CECPC.
The plaintiff said the act contravened the provisions of Section 222 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 31(iii) of the APC, October 2014 (as amended).
Article 31, Subsection iii of the APC Constitution reads: “Any Party office holder interested in contesting for an elective office (whether party office or office in a general election) shall resign and leave office 30 days prior to the date of nomination or Party primary for the Office he or she is seeking to contest.”
According to Adeoti, Oyetola ought to have resigned his membership of the APC’s CECPC and leave office as an officer of APC at least 30 days prior to the date of the Osun State primary election, to qualify for participation in the said party primary election.
But the court in its verdict yesterday said the case brought before it is a party affair, saying “the case is a matter within the internal affairs of a political party and therefore not justifiable.”
Delivering his judgement, Justice Inyang Ekwo, stated that Adeoti failed to support the process with relevant laws, and as such, showed no cause of action in the suit.
The court subsequently dismissed the case on the ground that it was an abuse of court process.
Reacting to the judgment, one of the counsels to Adeoti on the case, Barr. Gbenga Awosode said there are ‘many loopholes in the verdict’, noting that the judgement cannot stand the test of time.
According to Awosode, “There are so many loopholes in that judgment. The judge, in his judgement, said the constitution does not recognise the National Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee and as a result of that, Oyetola cannot be said to be an official of the party.
“Secondly, the judge said we did not exhaust internal mechanism in the party, and that the suit is an abuse of court process. Those are the grounds on which the judge based his judgment. But the judge did not read the whole judgment. He told us that he could not read the whole judgement.
“One area of concern is where the judge said the constitution does not recognise the National Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee. What is the implication of that? We will analyse the judgment when we receive the judgment in full.
“But definitely, we are going to appeal the judgment because it cannot stand the test of time.
Commenting on the issue, another lawyer who spoke to OSUN DEFENDER on condition of anonymity yesterday said: “When a matter goes to court like this, the judges are usually silent and in the silence of his lordship, the lordship will carefully listen to the case of the plaintiff and also that of the defendant.
“When the plaintiff is making his case, the judge listens to the merit and demerit. When the defendant opens his or her defends, the judge will also look at the merit and demerit of the case. And after the case has been closed, the judge will retire to chambers to look at the case of the parties that holds up the marginal scale of justice.
“And you know the scale has two sides, one side for the plaintiff and the other side for the defendant. And the emergence of the plaintiff will be put at one side, while the evidence of the defendant will be put on the other side of the scale.
“There’s something we call probative value of evidence. Where the evidence of a side in a case outweighs the other side, the judge is likely to decide in support of a side with heavier probative value of the evidence.
“An appeal must be filed within 90 days. The matter can go from court of appeal and terminate at the supreme court.
“If the supreme court rules in favour of Adeoti, that’s the apex court. The case must be concluded from the High Court to the Supreme Court before the swearing-in ceremony.”