Confusion in Ekiti over alleged disqualification of APC, governorship candidate 48 hours to election

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Party waves it off, insists on Oyebanji as its candidate

Uba Group

uba group

There is palpable tension in Ekiti State as Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was said to have on Thursday disqualified the All Progressives Congress and its governorship candidate, Biodun Oyebanji, from participating in the June 18, 2022 Ekiti State governorship poll.

It was also reported that Justice Ekwo held that the APC is not fielding any candidate in the election, having failed to comply with provisions of the Electoral Act as well as its guidelines in the conduct of party primary

The court subsequently sacked the APC and Oyebanji from participating in the governorship poll and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to delist APC and Oyebanji from the list of political parties and gubernatorial candidates for the election or at any subsequent postponement.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/528/22, Ekwo also ordered the APC to refund N22.5 million to Kayode Ojo, who was another APC governorship aspirant being cost of nomination and expression of interest forms for the primary election it failed to conduct

Ojo who was among the eight aspirants that purchased forms to contest the election under the APC platform, had sued the party, INEC and Oyebanji over his (Ojo’s) failure to secure the governorship ticket.

He claimed that he was robbed of the APC gubernatorial ticket in favour of Oyebanji and had prayed the court to hold that his party did not conduct a valid primary for the governorship poll.

Ojo also sought an order compelling INEC to delist APC and Oyebanji’s name from the list of political parties and gubernatorial candidates for the election or any subsequent postponement.

He, therefore, demanded N122.5 million damages from the APC, being the refund of payment for the expression of interest and nomination forms.

But following the court verdict, Oyebanji has maintained that he would appeal his disqualification by the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Justice Ekwo held inter alia: “It is my finding that the plaintiff has demonstrated upon preponderance of evidence that the gubernatorial primary election of the 1st defendant was not conducted in accordance with the provisions of Ss. 85 (2) and 87(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Articles 17 (vi) and 18(e), (9) and (0 of 1) Defendant’s Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the Ekiti 2022 gubernatorial election,” Justice Ekwo held.

The judge explained that the real issue which both the APC and Oyebanji seemed not to understand was not whether accredited members of the APC voted at the primaries but whether there was any primary election at all conducted in accordance with the mandatory provisions of both the Electoral Act (as amended) and the APC’s Guidelines for the Nomination of candidates for the Ekiti 2022 Gubernatorial Election-Direct Primaries (Option A4).

“When a primary election is illegal, the fact that such illegal election was monitored by the Nigeria Police (or other security agencies) as averred in paragraph 25 (i) of the 3rd defendant’s counter-affidavit is of no moment.

“The function of the Nigeria Police (or other security agencies) during primary election or even election proper is not to monitor same,” he held.

The judge explained that the court was inclined to grant the relief for refund of the sum paid by the plaintiff for the expression of interest form and nomination form since having voided the primary election APC cannot be allowed to benefit from its illegality.

“A declaration is hereby made that pursuant to the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and 1st defendant’s guidelines for the nomination of candidates for the Ekiti 2022 gubernatorial election-direct primaries (Option A4), it is incumbent on the 1st defendant to conduct a primary election for emergence of its gubernatorial candidate for June 18, 2022 or any subsequent date in compliance with the provisions of the said Electoral Act and guidelines of the political party.

“A declaration is hereby made that by virtue of the non-conclusion of 1st defendant’s primary election process in Ekiti State for the emergence of its gubernatorial candidate for June 18, 2022 gubernatorial election, or the conduct of the said primary election in contravention of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, it had no candidate at the said election.

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“An order of mandatory injunction is hereby made compelling the 2nd defendant to delist the names of 1st and 3rd defendants from the list of political parties and gubernatorial candidates for the June 18, 2022 gubernatorial election or at any subsequent postponement.

“1st defendant is hereby ordered to refund the sum of N22,500,000 (Twenty-two Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira) paid by the plaintiff to 1st defendant for the expression of interest form and nomination form upon total failure of consideration.

But following the court verdict, Oyebanji has maintained that he would appeal his disqualification by the Federal High Court in Abuja.

One of his confidants, Dauda Lawal, was said to have confirmed on Thursday that the APC candidate would appeal the Abuja Federal High Court ruling.

Lawal, who argued that Justice Ekwo’s court was a court of first instance, said Oyebanji and APC would go to a higher court to seek nullification of order, adding that the judgment was a distraction from the governorship election holding on Saturday.

Earlier on Thursday, the Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji Campaign Organisation had dismissed a rumour being peddled by mischief makers claiming that the primary won by the APC candidate in Ekiti State had been nullified by a court.

The Campaign Organisation said the APC flag bearer, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, remains in the race and would win the Saturday’s governorship election with a landslide victory.

A statement on Thursday signed by the Director of Media and Publicity of the BAO Campaign Organisation, Taiwo Olatunbosun, described the rumour as “a figment of infantile imagination” of its peddlers urging all eligible voters to go to the polls to vote for the APC flag bearer.

The Campaign Organisation which further described the rumour as “a concoction from the desperate camp of jittery opposition in the state” said the purported nullification only exists in the misguides imagination of those peddling it whom it said are already sensing a crushing defeat from the APC candidate on Saturday.

It further stated that Ekiti people will not be fooled by any beer parlour rumour as they are ever determined to cast their votes for the APC candidate who is head and shoulders above other contestants on the basis of his competence, experience, pedigree and connection with the grassroots.

The statement said: “Ekiti people will not be fooled by any beer parlour rumour of nullification of our party’s primary which produced the most popular candidate, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji. The rumour only exists in the infantile imagination of its peddlers and should not be accorded any attention.

“While it is a fact that some individuals aggrieved with the outcome of the party’s primary which produced our candidate have filed cases as it is normal in any democracy, but none of the cases has gone beyond the preliminary stage.

“In fact, all of the cases concerning the primary have been transferred back to Ekiti for hearing. No High Court is sitting on any matter regarding our primary in Abuja as at today let alone nullifying the primary election as alleged by the comedians.

“None of the cases about the APC governorship primary conducted in Ekiti is ripe for hearing yet as they have been adjourned till September 2022.The case filed in Ekiti by one of the aspirants has not even been assigned since courts are not sitting at the moment.

“The one filed in Abuja was struck out for lack of jurisdiction. Ekiti people are now wiser to know those that are always afraid of participating in an election but rather looking for illegitimate and fraudulent means.

“It’s clearly obvious that the opposition camp are jittery of the reality of the eventual failure and defeat confronting them after their shameful outing today in ado Ekiti. The almost empty pavilion exposed the emptiness of the assumed over bloated strength of SDP candidate.”

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  1. […] Party waves it off, insists on Oyebanji as its candidate There is palpable tension in Ekiti State as Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was said to have on Thursday disqualified the All Progressives Congress and its governorship candidate, Biodun Oyebanji, from participating in the June 18, 2022 Ekiti State governorship poll. […] Continue reading… […]

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