A Federal Capital Territory High Court on Monday dismissed a legal action instituted by a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, to challenge the nomination of Senator Buruji Kashamu as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State for the March 2, 2019 governorship election.
The court held that Adebutu, who was nominated by the National Working Committee of PDP for the governorship election, cannot maintain his suit against the defendants because the primary election that produced him was conducted in violation of a subsisting court judgment.
Justice Ajoke Adepoju, in a judgment in the suit filed by Adebutu to challenge the refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept his candidacy, said that the PDP National Working Committee acted in bad faith by disregarding a subsisting judgment of a Federal High Court to produce the candidate.
Justice Adepoju said that since PDP was a party in the judgment of the Honourable Justice I.N. Buba, the judgment of the court was binding on it and must be obeyed and respected so as to protect the sanctity of court in the interest of the rule of law.
The judge agreed that it was the National Working Committee of the party (PDP) that reserves the power to conduct primary election for nomination of candidates for the 2019 general election but however said that the National Working Committee must not do so in violation of any court judgment.
Justice Adepoju held that the PDP National Working Committee cannot not hold valid primary election without a recourse to the Ogun State chapter of the party or outright approval of the party until the judgment against it by Justice Buba has been set aside by a higher court.
Justice Adepoju said that Hon. Adebutu’s case cannot be maintained to declare him a governorship candidate because the PDP National Working Committee which conducted the primary election that produced him as a candidate last year did so in violation of a judgment of a Federal High Court delivered by Justice Ibrahim Buba.
The judge, therefore, dismissed the suit in its entirety.
The Judge said that she arrived at the conclusion because of the need for sanctity and judgments of courts to be protected by parties or individuals, adding that PDP did not do well by disobeying the judgment of Justice Buba with the way it conducted its primary election in Ogun State last year.
Justice Adepoju said that although Hon. Adebutu was able to establish that his own primary election was conducted by the appropriate organ of PDP but that he was not entitled to be declared the candidate because of the circumstances that surrounded the conduct of the primary election in breach of a judgment that has not been set aside.
Earlier, the court had dismissed the objection raised by Kashamu against the case of Adebutu on ground of jurisdiction, adding that the House of Representatives member has the option in law either to file his case in Abeokuta, Ogun State or in Abuja as he did.
Senator Buruji Kashamu and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon Ladi Adebutu have been laying claim and counter claim to the party’s governorship ticket having emerged from two parallel primaries conducted in the state.
But in the suit filed by Adebutu with References No. FCT/FT/CV/29/2018, he prayed the Abuja High Court to declare him as the authentic PDP candidate for the 2019 governorship Poll in Ogun State.
His ground in the suit argued by his counsel Mr. Patrick Ediale was that he emerged as a candidate from the primary election conducted by the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee of the party.
The House of Representative member also hinged his claim on the ground that he was not a party to any court case or judgment against that may have any binding effect on him.
But, Kashamu who was represented by a legal luminary Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the suit on ground of lack of jurisdiction.
Izinyon told Justice Ajoke Adepoju that the primary elections in dispute were conducted in Ogun State and that the appropriate place to institute the suit remains Ogun State in the face of the law.
Besides, the senior counsel submitted that the primary election that produced Kashamu was the authentic and lawful one having been conducted in line with judgment of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
In the judgment exhibited in the court, Justice Buba had in 2016 ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and PDP to recognize and accept, for purposes of the 2019 Nigeria General Elections, only candidates of the PDP in Ogun State that have been nominated through primaries endorsed or conducted by the Adebayo Dayo-led new officers of the PDP in Ogun State.
The implication of this judgment is that Senator Kashamu and the candidates that emerged from the primaries endorsed by the Engr. Dayo-led Ogun State PDP Executive would remain the candidates of the Ogun State PDP for the 2019 general election.