It was jubilation galore on Tuesday in some part of Ikenne, Ijebu Ode, Sagamu and Abeokuta, after a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission from recognizing or accepting all the candidates produced by Ladi Adebutu’s faction of the People’s Democratic Party in Ogun State.
The court in its ruling declared that all the candidates produced by Adebutu’s faction of the party must not be recognized and accepted by the electoral body.
Justice O.O Oguntoyinbo ordered that the party should immediately conduct fresh governorship primaries to accommodate all interests/groups.
The PDP members who had gathered at the Jimi Lawal campaign office at Ijebu to await the decision of Justice Oguntoyinbo spontaneously burst into jubilation immediately they heard that the Federal High Court had ruled in Jimi Lawal’s favour.
The crowd moved in a motorcade around Ijebu Ode, Ikenne and Abeokuta singing and dancing to popular jingles used by Jimi Lawal and Segun Sowunmi for his electioneering, leading to a traffic snarl on major roads.
Members started calling themselves on phones saying “Ladi ti Lule”.
Anxiety and apprehension had heightened in the polarized and crisis – ridden Ogun State chapter of the PDP as members had awaited the court verdict on a suit filed by Adesegun Seriki and three others against INEC and the PDP.
Seriki and his Co – plaintiffs were seeking the Court’s explicit order to enforce their rights as the rightful and legitimate PDP candidates for the 2023 general elections in Ogun State.
Before Tuesday’s verdict, the case had witnessed a series of adjournments, parts of which were done for the defendants to be served the court processes and to also avail them the grace to reply the same within a reasonable time frame in a suit that was time bound.
In June this year, counsel representing the claimants in the said suit marked FHC/AB/CS/83/2022 mentioned the matter and requested for a definite date to hear the interlocutory application dated 2nd of June, 2022.
The court in its response observed that the defendants were still within time frame to respond to the motion on notice, having been served on the 15th of June 2022 as evidenced in the proof of service by the Court.
The court, however, noted that due to the fact that the suit was time bound, it would be needful not to allow itself to be bogged down with interlocutory ruling but would be inclined to hear the substantive originating summons itself.
The claimants’ counsel; D.A Awosika, SAN, agreed unequivocally with the position of the court that a date for hearing of the substantive originating summons be given and hearing notice be issued to the respondents.
The matter was, therefore, adjourned to June 28, 2022 for hearing and proceedings on the matter followed afterwards.
The reports that the claimants in this suit are basically seeking for declaratory reliefs adjudging them PDP rightful candidates for the next year general elections in Ogun State on the grounds that the judgments of Buba J in FHC/L/CS/636/2016 between Engr. Adebayo Dayo and other against the INEC and 5 others delivered on the 24th of June 2016; FHC/ABJ/CS/1323/2018 between PDP and two others against Senator Buruji Kasamu and 21 others delivered by Abubakar J on the 6th of March 2019; and FHC/ABJ/CS/208/2020 between PDP and Engr. Adebayo Dayo and 8 others delivered by Mohammed J on the 21st of July, 2020.
The claimants’ kernel of argument is that it is the Ogun State PDP Executive Committee that had the legitimacy to conduct the last primaries to elect PDP candidates for the 2023 general elections and not the National Executive of PDP as was done by the National Working Committee of PDP between May 21st-26th of 2022 in defiance of the aforesaid judgments.
Tuesday’s verdict of the court has far reaching consequences on Ogun State PDP in respect of her motley of conflicting/parallel candidates for the 2023 general elections in the state.
With the case in favour of Seriki and others as they had prayed, it has put the candidacy of Adebutu and others in his camp already listed by INEC in jeopardy, including the deal recently perfected between Adebutu and the 2019 governorship candidate of the Allied People’s Movement, Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade.
The deal borders on how Adebutu and Akinlade will share spoils of office among their cronies and loyalists if elected as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ogun State in 2023.