By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja, June 29, 2022
A Federal High Court, Abuja, is to deliver judgment on July 14 in a suit seeking the disqualification of Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, in the July 16 governorship election holding in Osun state.
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date on Wednesday after counsel for the parties in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/203/2022 adopted their processes and presented their arguments in the matter.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a chieftain of the APC, Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti, the plaintiff in the suit, filed the matter through his legal team led by Chiesonu Okpoko, SAN.
In the suit, the plaintiff listed the APC, Oyetola and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
Adeoti, who was an aspirant in the Feb. 19 Osun APC governorship primary in the originating summons dated Feb. 22 and filed Feb. 23, prayed the court to nullify Oyetola’s candidacy on the grounds that he (Oyetola) contested in the poll as a member of the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary and Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
Adeoti 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).
According to him, the 2nd defendant (Oyetola) ought to have resigned his membership of the 1st defendant (APC)’s CECPC and leave office as an officer of the 1st defendant at least 30 days prior to the date of the 1st defendant’s Osun State primary election to qualify for participation in the said 1st defendant’s primary election.
Upon resumption of the matter on Wednesday, Adeoti’s counsel, Mahmud Adesina, SAN, informed that the matter was adjourned for hearing and that he was ready to proceed on the case.
The judge then directed lawyers to the parties to adopt their processes and argue their cases.
Dr A. I . Layonu, SAN, lawyer to the APC, said a preliminary objection to counter the originating summons was among applications he filed.
“All I want to emphasis is that this case borders on one main issue; whether the governor resigned from his position in CECPC before the conduct of the primary,” he said.
Layonu argued that Oyetola tendered his resignation letter to the APC as a member of its committee on Jan. 19 and that the party acknowledged its receipt.
According to him, the person that was supposed to receive it (the letter) did not only do that but put it in writing.
“The person who received the resignation letter has acknowledged it,” he said.
The lawyer, who said all these arguments were canvassed in their preliminary objection, urged the court to dismiss the suit.
Oyetola’s counsel, Olusegun Jolaolu, SAN, adopted the submission of Layonu.
Jolaolu urged the court to dismiss the suit as lacking in merit and an exercise in futility.
He reempahsised that the governor resigned before the day the primary poll was conducted.
“Exhibit IAO1 is the letter of resignation and Exhibit IAO2 is the letter of acknowledgement from the party.
“We urge my lord to dismiss this suit in its entirety,” he said.
Bashir Abubakar, who appeared for INEC, said though the commission filed a counter affidavit and a written address, he said he left the outcome of the case to the decision of the court.
But counsel for the plaintiff, Adesina, said “the stories of the 1st defendant (APC) are misleading and confusing.”
Calling the attention of the court to two exhibits in support of his argument, including Exhibit F, he argued that Governor Oyetola was still a member of the CECPC as at the time the Feb. 19 primary was conducted.
He further argued that neither Oyetola nor APC protested that the governor was not a member of the party’s committee set up by the National Executive Council (NEC) when the matter was filed.
The senior lawyer, who said the resignation latter was a backdated one, urged the court to grant all their reliefs.
According to him, both the plaintiff and the 2 defendant (Oyetola) have equal right to vie for this position.
He told the court that the governorship election is slated for July 16.
Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter until July 14 for judgment.