By Alex Enumah in Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging the conduct of the July 20, 2018, All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election, which produced Isiaka Oyetola as the candidate of the party in the Osun State governorship election.
Justice Inyang Ekwo on Friday dismissed the suit while delivering judgment in the legal action filed by an APC governorship aspirant, Kunle Adegoke, for lacking in merit.
Adegoke had last year approached the court praying for an order nullifying the APC primary election conducted through the direct primary method in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, on the grounds that the poll was not conducted in compliance with relevant laws.
The governorship aspirant, who came eighth among the nine aspirants that stood for the primary election, complained to the court that the 1999 Constitution, Electoral Act 2010 and the APC guidelines were breached by the Ovie Omo-Agege-led Electoral Panel.
Specifically, the plaintiff complained that the direct system of conducting primary election had not been officially adopted at the time it was used to conduct the primary election in Osun State.
The plaintiff also prayed the court to nullify the primary election on the grounds that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not given a mandatory seven-day notice to observe the poll when it was shifted from July 19 to 20, 2018.
However, the defendants in the suit comprising the APC, INEC, Oyetola and Benedict Olugbenga Alabi filed various objections to the suit, among which were that the primary election is an internal affair of the APC and that the plaintiff lacked the ‘locus standi’ to institute the suit but, the objections were dismissed.
Justice Ekwo, in the substantive matter, however agreed with the defendants that the primary election was conducted in line with the provisions of relevant laws.
The judge said that although the plaintiff complained that a seven-day notice was not issued to INEC to observe the poll in writing, the presence of INEC officials at the election, he said has provided remedy to the complaint.
Justice Ekwo held that the plaintiff, who appeared before the Senator Omo-Agege-led Electoral Panel for screening, did not complain or raised any objection against the use of the direct system and as such has waived his right to challenge the same system.
“It is my opinion upon considering the evidence in this case that the APC acted within the powers and authority vested in it in the conduct of the governorship primaries in Osun State in the circumstances of the evidence in this case.
“Far be it that primary election of a political party would be annulled simply for the fun of doing so or in sympathy with an aspirant whose aim is just to have the primaries annulled.
“The evidence to warrant the exercise of the power of nullification by the court must be compelling and overwhelming and that being the case, I am unable to see any of the provisions of the constitution and guideline of the APC which the plaintiff says has been contravened which has the potency of nullifying the primary election of July 20, 2018.
“Indeed none of the provisions of the regulations for the conduct of political party primaries of INEC carries the sanction propounded by the plaintiff. The law is that the law would not and should not read into the law or any statutory instrument which is expressly not stated therein.
“On the whole, I find no illegal or unconstitutional act on the part of the APC in the conduct of the governorship primaries in Osun State that would warrant this court to intervene in what can be considered as its internal affairs either before or on July 20, 2018 when the said primary was conducted. This case lacks merit and I herby make an order dismissing it,” he held.