A pall of despair and gloom fell on the camp of Hon. Ladi Adebutu on Tuesday following a judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, which barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognizing him as Ogun state PDP governorship candidate in the forthcoming 2023 governorship election in the state.
The primary that threw up Adebutu as governorship candidate of the party was conducted on May 25th, 2022 at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) amid pockets of violence and allegation of using strange delegates list to conduct the primary by the party panel.
The court also nullified the aforementioned governorship primaries and its outcome in respect of selecting candidates for the 2023 general elections.
Justice Oguntoyinbo after nullifying the primaries, also ordered fresh one to be conducted within two weeks to accommodate all interests and groups.
The presiding judge, Justice O.O Oguntoyinbo in his judgement ordered the party to conduct another primaries within the next 14 days.
Aggrieved three members of the party, Taiwo Olabode Idris, Kehinde Akala and Alhaji Ayinde Monsuri had taken the PDP, Ladi Adebutu and INEC to court challenging the authenticity of the delegates’ lists used for the conduct of the primaries.
The plaintiffs premised their arguments on delegates’ list used by electoral panel for the primaries as having names or persons not emanating from a democratically elected process at the ward, local government and state congresses.
They contended that 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 25th of May, 2022 “for the purpose of choosing 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 democratically elected at the ward congress.”
The plaintiffs also sought an order of the court asking 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 the 25th of May, 2022 based on the list of ad-hoc delegates who were not elected at the ward congresses constituted by the 1st Defendant for that purpose”.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Thaddeus Idenyi in his reaction to the judgement said, the court nullified the election “because it was conducted using a list of adhoc delegates who were not elected.”
“The implication of the judgement is obvious, the PDP will have to put their hats together and then conduct a fresh primary as ordered by the court.
“This time around, the court was specific that they have to use the list that has been certified by INEC because after the primary, those lists were submitted to INEC as parts of its report of covering those ward congresses held, so the court has now said that is the list which 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 fresh primary.”
But the Publicity Secretary of PDP in the state, Akinloye Bankole said, the party would first study the judgement to enable her ascertain what course of action to take.
Layman interpretation of the judgement may mean :
1 Only delegates validly voted at 30 April 2022 Congresses can vote at PDP Guber primaries by virtue of 84(5)(b) and PDP Guidelines. PDP can’t resolve from, alter or depart from the result of those Congresses
2.National Electoral Panel constituted for the Ogun State PDP cannot unilaterally impose delegates or use a delegates list different from the result of the Congresses
3. PDP indirect Guber primaries of 25 May 2022 using the list of unelected _ad hoc_ delegates is null and void
4. INEC cannot accept the result or candidate that emerged from the null and void primaries
5. INEC directed to disregard and refrain from giving effect to PDP Primaries Result
6. PDP primary election of 25 May 2022 using a list of unelected _ad hoc_ delegates set aside and nullified
7. PDP to conduct fresh primaries within 14 days using the INEC-certified delegates’ list