The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed a suit challenging Governor Adegboyega Oyetola’s emergence as the All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate for the Osun gubernatorial election, scheduled for Saturday, July 16, 2022.
A chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti had sued the APC, Oyetola and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accusing the governor of unlawfully contesting the primaries as member of the Caretaker Extraordinary and Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
Adeoti, who was one of the aspirants in the party, argued that the APC violated Section 222 of the 1999 Constitution(as amended) and Article 31(iii) of the APC, October 2014 (as amended), by allowing Oyetola to run while being a member of the committee.
The plaintiff, through his counsel, Chiesonu Okpoko (SAN), contended that Oyetola should have resigned from that committee, 30 days before the primary election on February 19.
But the APC and the INEC, had entered preliminary objections on several grounds.
While the APC argued that the plaintiff’s originating process was incompetent because there was no law backing it, the party also argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to determine the suit as it is a matter of the internal affairs of the party.
Delivering judgement on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo agreed with the APC that the committee is an adhoc arrangement within the party and does not amount to a constitutional office.
“The committee is an internal affairs of the APC and the court cannot interfere. The argument of the first defendant succeeds and I so hold”, the court held.
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 were he contested and scored votes.
Ekwo further held that a political party party has power to amend its own constitution.
“I hereby decline jurisdiction in the internal affairs of a political party. Where a member is disatisfied 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”, Ekwo said.
The court subsequently dismissed the suit for being an abuse of court process.