A Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, South West Nigeria, has nullified all the primary elections conducted by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The court also barred the Independent Nigeria Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognising Hon. Ladi Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.
In his judgement, the presiding judge, Justice O.O Oguntoyinbo, ordered the party to conduct another primary within the next 14 days.
On May 25, 2022, the party conducted the primary election, which produced Adebutu as the party’s governorship candidate.
But three party members, Taiwo Olabode Idris, Kehinde Akala, and Alhaji Ayinde Monsuri, had dragged the party, Ladi Adebutu and INEC to court, challenging the authenticity of the delegates’ lists used for the conduct of the primaries.
The plaintiffs contended that the persons on the delegates’ list used by the electoral panel for the primaries were not democratically elected at the ward, local government, and state congresses, hence the panel “cannot unilaterally or arbitrarily impose” the list on the party for the primaries.
The plaintiffs, in their originating summons, had prayed the court, among others, to nullify or set aside the state congress/indirect primary election, held by the 1st defendant (PDP) on May 25, 2022 “to choose the candidate which the 1st Defendant intends to nominate/sponsor at the 2023 Governorship election in Ogun State based on the list of delegates who were not elected democratically at the ward congress.”
They also sought an order directing the 2nd Defendant (INEC) “to disregard and/or refrain from giving effect to the results of the alleged 1st defendant’s indirect primary election held on May 25, 2022. This was based on the list of ad hoc delegates who were not elected at the ward congresses constituted by the 1st defendant for that purpose.”
Reacting to the judgement, the counsel to the plaintiffs, Thaddeus Idenyi, said the court nullified the election because they conducted it using a list of ad hoc delegates who were not elected.
The implication of the judgement is obvious; the PDP will have to put their house together and conduct a new primary as ordered by the court.
“This time around, the court was specific that they have to use the list that INEC has certified because, after the primary, those lists were submitted to INEC as parts of its report covering those ward congresses held.
So the court says that is the list that must be considered in the conduct of the fresh primaries, so the PDP had to just put their house together and use those lists to conduct a new primary.
Meanwhile, following the court’s judgements, Adebutu has called on members of the party and the public to remain calm as there is no cause for panic.
Adebutu noted that while the party awaits the Certified True Copy of the judgements, its legal team will review the court verdict, and necessary actions shall be communicated to the public.
He, however, added that a Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier on Friday, July 29, 2022, ruled in favour of the primaries that produced Adebutu as the PDP governorship candidate in Ogun State, validating the process and delegates that took part in the primary election.
Adebutu stated that “the process of the primaries was in line with all provisions of the new Electoral Act, INEC and PDP guidelines.”