There is anxiety in the camp of Osun State Governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke over the suit filed filed at the Court of Appeal, Akure by a fellow member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Dotun Babayemi.
On 8 March. Babayemi was declared winner of a parallel governorship primary conducted at the Children and Women Development Centre, Osogbo, while Adeleke emerged victorious in a similar election held at the Osogbo City Stadium on the same day.
The PUNCH reports that the group admitted that the suit constituted danger to PDP’s victory but said that the party had begun reconciliation with Babayemi. Adeleke’s camp is believed to be concerned that the external forces could exploit the case to truncate the party’s victory.
In dismissing Babayemi’s case, Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel of the Federal High Court in Osogbo ruled that Adeleke as the validly elected governorship candidate. But Babayemi filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Akure, challenging the judgment of the lower court and seeking to be declared the PDP governorship candidate.
The Director of Media of the Osun State PDP, Oladele Oluwabamiji admitted that all aggrieved party members constituted danger to the PDP victory, adding that no opportunity would be given to external forces to exploit the situation.
Oluwabamiji said: “Any member of our party that is aggrieved is constituting some kind of danger, not to mention court cases. Grievance of major gladiators is enough as admittance of danger. I am aware that our leaders are not sleeping over it. They are still talking to Prince Dotun Babayemi and others in the party, not minding our victory at the polls. We are always better together. We are not taking anyone for granted.
“We believe everyone should come on board now so we can have a seamless administration; so that we can deliver our promises to the good people of Osun State. You know we cannot do that on the platform of rancourous relationship as a political party”.
Expressing confidence that Babayemi would yield to sound reasoning, the party leader said that efforts are ongoing to pacify the factional governorship candidate.
He further said: “Dotun Babayemi is a Prince and I’m sure that the blue blood in him will speak to his veins. We need a bit of fresh air which the good people of Osun State have put in place via the verdict during the gubernatorial election. We are still trying to talk to him and manage the situation. Differences cannot help anyone. We have seen the worst of what internal rancour can do to a political party. We won’t do anything that will leave us open to some other forces trying to creep in”.
The Osun acting PDP Chairman, Dr Adekunle Akindele, expressed optimism that the case would be withdrawn and the matter resolved amicably.
“In the first place, it is a mere academic exercise. But since he is a member of our party and he is aggrieved, we have been meeting to find a political solution to it. We are optimistic that it will be resolved amicably and he will withdraw the case before Wednesday”, Akindele assured.
The Secretary of the PDP Legal Committee, Hashim Abioye explained that the case came up for hearing on 13 July and that the Appellate Court has reserved judgment indefinitely on the matter.
According to him, before the Osogbo Federal High Court gave judgment on Babayemi’s case against Adeleke, an Abuja Federal High Court had earlier ruled in favour of the then PDP candidate in a matter he instituted against the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission in which he asked the court to declare him the validly elected governorship candidate of the party in the state.
Abioye said it was after Adeleke had won at the Federal High Court, Abuja, that the Federal High Court, Osogbo, also ruled on the matter in his favour.
He recalled: “Before Osogbo Federal High Court gave judgment on Babayemi’s matter, what many people don’t know is that there was a judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which validated the candidature of Senator Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke Jackson as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Osun State.
“That judgment came before that of the Federal High Court, Osogbo, in the suit instituted by Prince Dotun Babayemi. But after the judgment in the suit instituted by Adeleke at the Federal High Court, Abuja, against INEC and PDP, Prince Babayemi, not being a party to the suit, sought leave to appeal as an interested party.
“But the Court of Appeal, Abuja, dismissed the suit as lacking in merit. As at the time the judgment of Court of Appeal in Abuja came, the Federal High Court in Osogbo had delivered its judgment in the case instituted by Babayemi and the matter was also struck out as the court said Babayemi lacked locus standi.
“The Abuja Court of Appeal referred to the judgment of the Osogbo Federal High Court in its judgment”.
The PDP Legal Committee secretary further disclosed that the Court of Appeal ruled that Babayemi did not participate physically in the primary election conducted by the National Executive Committee of the party, which is the authority recognised under the law.
He added: “It was after the decision of the Abuja Court of Appeal that Babayemi appealed the judgment of the Osogbo Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal, Akure.
“The appeal has been taken, parties have argued their briefs and everyone awaits the judgment of the court. The case is reserved for judgment but the date is not yet communicated
“In the first place, the case is a mere academic exercise, but since he is a member of our party and he is aggrieved, we are already meeting to find a political solution to it. We are optimistic that it will be resolved amicably and he will withdraw the case”.
A source in the Babayemi Campaign Organisation said there were moves to stop further action on the litigation, saying many leaders were appealing to his principal to drop his grievances.
He said: “There have been meetings on the matter. It is not a small matter and many leaders are not keeping quiet on the court case at Akure Court of Appeal. But no decision yet from Babayemi”.
A source told The PUNCH that before the governorship election, Babayemi’s camp had demanded a senatorial ticket and two House of Representatives seats to drop the case at the Court of Appeal.
“They were told that would not be possible but they were promised that an inclusive government would be run when Adeleke emerges as the governor”, the source added.
A former governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who supported the primary that produced Babayemi in March, had on Sunday congratulated Adeleke.
Oyinlola described Adeleke’s victory at Saturday’s election as a divine validation of his efforts.
He said: “That you emerged victorious in the poll was, no doubt, a product of God’s favour and people’s love powered by long years of planning and single-minded determination to serve our people as the state’s chief executive.
“As one of your predecessors, I am privileged to know that the task ahead is very enormous and the load very heavy. I, however, pray that God Almighty will help you to successfully discharge the responsibilities put on your shoulders by this mandate of our people”.