Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept Jimoh Ibrahim as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State.
Justice Abang gave the order in a ruling on an application brought by the factional chairman and secretary of the PDP in Ondo State, Prince Biyi Poroye and Ademola Genty and their counterparts in Osun and Oyo states.
The application, as filed by the plaintiffs was for the enforcement of a June 29, 2016 judgment of the court affirming Poroye, Genty and others, who emerged from the May 10, 2016 congresses of the party in the South-West, as the authentic leaders of the party in Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos states.
However, the PDP said it has taken steps to appeal the judgement and has also filed a stay of execution.
The judgement according to Barrister Banjo Aderogba a member of Jegede’s legal team, is an unwarranted one which he said, will be thrown out at the Court of Appeal.
He said, the PDP in Ondo State had earlier petitioned the NJC about the activities of Justice Abang on this subject matter.
Also in a statement issued and signed by the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Banji Okunomo, the PDP said its governorship candidate can only emerge through a due process in consonance with its constitution. He said the party believed that its governorship candidate cannot be produced through the back door or some unconstitutional procedures.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria has made it clear that only the National Executive Committee (NEC) of a party could nominate the governorship candidate of parties. This was done in the nomination of Mr Eyitayo Jegede (SAN). As such, no High court can invalidate or alter this position which is clearly defined by the highest ruling court in Nigeria.
“The PDP wishes to allay the fear of party members as appropriate steps are already being taken in this regard to quash the obnoxious and baseless ruling,” he said.
The court also, in the judgment, in a suit No.: FHC/ABJ/CS/395/2016, ordered the electoral body to only accept the name of the candidate sent by the Pororye and Genty-led executive committee as the actual candidate of the party for the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State.
Poroye and Genty, who applied to the court for themselves and on behalf of the Ondo State Executive Committee of the PDP, said the post-judgment application was informed by INEC’s refusal to accept their candidate, as directed by the court in its June 29 judgment.
The plaintiffs said INEC was aware that the judgment of the court related to five other states where the general elections would hold in 2019 and was in good position to understand the implications of the judgment for Ondo State where elections would hold in 2016, but chose to ignore the obvious implication.
They added that INEC was also aware that the judgment was predicated upon the letter of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, dated May, 19, 2016, which was addressed to it (INEC), confirming to it that Pororye and Genty were leaders of the authentic Executive Committee of the party in Ondo State.
In his ruling on Friday, Justice Abang held that INEC did not have any reason not to accept the candidate submitted to INEC by the plaintiffs, adding that, not only did INEC participated in the proceedings leading to the June 29 judgment, it was not on record that the judgment had been appealed.
Abang, who also noted that since INEC did not contest the case and did not appeal the judgement, wondered why it chose not to obey it.
He ordered INEC to, “accept and process for the purpose of its functions and activities in the organisation and conduct of the Ondo State governorship election only the nomination of Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim Folorunso, who emerged from the primary election conducted by the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs/applicants, as candidate of the 2nd defendant (PDP) in the said Ondo governorship election.”
The judge also ordered INEC to “reject and jettison any other nomination from(s) submitted to it by any other person(s) apart from the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs/applicants, indicating that no other person, apart from Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim Folorunso, is the candidate of the 2nd defendant for the Ondo State governorship election.”