Two days to the Osun States governorship election, a Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging Governor Adegboyega Oyetola’s emergence as the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for the election.
A governorship aspirant in the party’s primary , Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti sued the APC, Oyetola and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accusing the Governor of unlawfully contesting the primaries as a member of the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary and Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
Adeoti argued that the APC violated Section 222 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 31(iii) of the APC Constitution (as amended), by allowing Oyetola to run while being a member of the committee.
Chief Chiesonu Okpoko SAN, contended on behalf of the plaintiff that Oyetola should have resigned from that committee 30 days before the primary election on 19 February.
But the APC and INEC entered preliminary objections on many grounds. The APC argued that the plaintiff’s originating process was incompetent because there was no law backing it. It further stated that the court lacked jurisdiction to determine the suit as it is a matter of the internal affairs of the party.
In his judgment on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo agreed with the APC that the committee was an ad-hoc arrangement within the party and did not amount to a constitutional office.
“The committee is an internal affair of the APC and the court cannot interfere. The argument of the first defendant succeeds, and I so hold”, the judge ruled.
Regarding whether the suit was a pre-election matter, the judge held that the plaintiff’s suit would have made sense if he had challenged the status of the committee vis-a-vis the Constitution, and not to challenge a political party where he contested and scored votes.
Justice Ekwo further held that a political party has power to amend its own constitution.
“I hereby decline jurisdiction in the internal affairs of a political party. Where a member is dissatisfied with the party’s decision, the only option is for such person to leave. The plaintiff has shown no cause of action in the case and I so hold”, he ruled.
Subsequently, he dismissed the suit for being an abuse of court process and have no iota of law backing it.