A Federal High Court in Abuja has held that the party primary nomination process through which Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State emerged to contest for re-election as governor was a wrong and an unconstitutional process.
Accordingly, Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, nullified the nomination of the Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the state’s governorship election.
The judge nullified the nomination of Oyetola and his deputy governorship candidate, Benedict Alabi, on grounds that the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who submitted their names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended states: “The Governor shall not, during the period when he holds, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”
Buni was the Chairman of the APC National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee at the time the party’s governorship primary in Osun took place in January.
In the suit filed by its counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), on April 7, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the court to nullify the governor’s nomination for violating the Electoral Act.
However, Oyetola challenged the competence of the suit through his counsel, Kunle Adegoke (SAN).
The governor argued that the PDP lacked the locus to commence the action and that the suit was statute-barred.
In his judgment, Justice Nwite agreed with the submissions of the PDP counsel and declared as null and void, the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi by the APC.
He also held that Buni acted in contravention of the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution when he held dual executive positions as the Governor of Yobe and the Chairman of the APC National Caretaker Committee.
The judge said the Yobe governor’s decisions, including presentation of Oyetola to INEC amounted to a nullity in law.
Oyetola was defeated by the PDP candidate, Ademola Adeleke, in the election held on July 16, but he is at the election tribunal challenging his defeat.
With the Federal Court’s position it is yet to be seen if Governor Oyetola still has locus to challenge his defeat by Senator Adeleke.
Besides, pundits may also want to find out what will happen to all other primary nomination processes conducted by Governor Buni in his capacity as Chairman of the APC National Caretaker Committee while still Governor of Yobe State.