Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, dismissed the application filed by the candidate of Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede (SAN).
Jegede had approached the court with an application seeking leave to be joined as a defendant in the matter so as to appeal the judgment of the court delivered on October 14, 2016 in favour of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff’s faction of PDP.
Justice Abang, had, on October 14, 2016, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate of the party in Ondo State gubernatorial election scheduled for next month.
Abang’s ruling was based on the application brought by the Chairman and Secretary of the PDP in Ondo State, Prince Biyi Poroye and Ademola A. Genty, respectively, and their counterparts in Osun and Oyo states.
The application was for the enforcement of the June 29 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.
The court had also, in the same June 29 judgment, in a suit No:. FHC/ABJ/CS/395/2016, ordered INEC to only accept the name of the candidate sent by the Pororye and Genty 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 relates to five other states where the general elections would hold in 2019 and is in good position to understand the implications of the judgment for Ondo State where elections will hold this year, but chose to ignore the obvious implication.
Consequent upon the October 14 judgment of the court, Jegede, in a motion filed on October 17, 2016 had sought to be joined in the suit as an interested party to enable him appeal against the judgment.
Some of his grounds for the application include that the fact that he was affected by the ruling of the court delivered on October 14 and as such, he intended to appeal against it.
He also held that his name was already forwarded to INEC by the Party and that the electoral body had already published his name as the candidate for November governorship election in Ondo State.
The applicant claimed that his name had already been submitted to INEC before the order urging INEC to accept the candidate of Jimoh Ibrahim was made.
In his ruling, Justice Okon Abang stated that the application lacked merit and consequently struck it out and held that Jegede was not mentioned in the substantive matter and as such, he lacked the locus standi (legal right) to seek leave to appeal the judgment.
“He also lacked the right to be joined in the main suit and as such, he cannot be joined thereafter or have the right to appeal the judgment. He is not entitled to appeal.
“There is nothing from the records of the court leading to the judgement of June 29, showing that the applicant has interest in the matter”, Abang held, adding that, it was the political Party that submits the list of candidates the Party wants to sponsor in an election.
“It is only the Political Party that can state that a candidate’s name has been submitted. Without a Party, a candidate cannot go for election. It is the Party that canvasses votes, it is a Party that wins the election. Only Political Party can stand for an election”, he held.
Another ground in which Jegede was not entitled to appeal, the Judge ruled, was that he did not participate in the primaries conducted by the Plaintiff on August 29 in the South West.
“In this case, there was no evidence that Jegede participated in the primaries conducted on August 29. It is not a candidate that nominates himself. It is the Party that nominates a candidate.
“This court has no right to entertain the applicant’s application on merit. Jegede has no right to sponsor himself and there is no record before the court that the applicant was the person PDP sponsored for the election.
“Even INEC did not inform the court either orally or otherwise that PDP has nominated Jegede as candidate. INEC, even in its incompetent affidavit filed on october 11, did not state that it has received the nomination of the applicant or that his name has been published.
“In my view, it is believed that INEC was aware of the subsisting ruling of the court and as such, it was being careful”, Abang said and noted that even if he decide to consider the application on merit, it was already bound to fail because the applicant has failed to appeal the June judgment.
Until that judgment was set aside, Justice Abang held that, INEC cannot receive nomination order than the plaintiff, “unless it wants to thread the path of illegality and that will not be good for the society”.
Before the ruling, Abang stressed that Jegede misrepresented the position of the court, when he complained of not given fair hearing, saying that, “no mention was made of Jegede’s name being submitted to INEC. So, how would the court know that he has been nominated by PDP and his name forwarded to INEC.
“The applicant is a senior member of the Bar and he is telling the court to speculate. He is not being fair to the court in his wild allegation. He was not denied fair hearing before the ruling of October 14 was delivered. His name was not mentioned either by the Party or INEC, how would I have known that his name has been forwarded to INEC.
“The order was not made in favour of Ibrahim but based on the earlier judgement”, Abang stated.