Stop parading yourself as Ogun PDP guber candidate, Adebutu tells Showunmi
The Director of Media, Ladi Adebutu Campaign Organisation, Afolabi Orekoya, yesterday, cautioned Mr. Segun Showunmi against parading himself as candidate of Ogun State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 governorship election.
Orekoya also urged the media to stop addressing Showunmi as candidate of the party. He said Showunmi’s claim as the flag bearer of Ogun PDP for the next gubernatorial poll was based on wrong interpretation of the recent Appeal Court ruling.
Speaking with The Guardian, Orekoya urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and national headquarters of PDP to also warn Showunmi against parading himself as candidate.
Meanwhile, the position of the Abuja Appeal Court, according to its ruling was that the suit filed by Ogun State governorship aspirant, Showunmi, against the governorship candidate of PDP, Oladipupo Adebutu, is purely party affairs, not pre-election matter.
The court held that the decision of Justice A. A. Akinyemi of the Ogun State High Court, delivered on May 19, 2022, that, the court has no jurisdiction to pry into internal affairs of a political party, same where it involves a clear breach of it own Constitution or rules. He cited Onuoha v. Okafor (1993)2 SCNLR 244, Sheriff v. PDP (2017) 14 NWLR, (Pt . 1585)2, Gana v. SDP (2019) LPELR- 47153(SC).
The appellant as an applicant (Showunmi) had in his originating summon, want the court to determine whether the party executives have not shown bias and breach of trust, contributing money to purchase nomination form for third respondent, Adebutu.
Showunmi had instituted the suit against his party, PDP, the National Working Committee of PDP and Adebutu, as first to third respondents in the suit.
He however prayed for an order of the court to dissolve the entire executive of PDP in Ogun State from state level to ward level with immediate effect.
The aspirant also, prayed the court for an order, directing the state PDP to appoint or set up a caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of the part from state to ward level in Ogun State for the purpose of state congress.
The lower court had in a ruling struck out the suit on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate upon.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of the lower court, the plaintiff, Showunmi appealed against the High Court decision.
While delivering judgment on the appeal marked CA/IB/243/2022, the court held that, the action that gave rise to the appeal is not a pre-election matter.
The court held that: “these are domestic affairs of the party (first respondent (PDP) and it is not the duty of court to choose for a political party, their leaders and executive to run the party affairs.”
It added that it is not the party’s decision making machine for members of the party, and cannot run the affairs of the party for the party.
The three panel of Justices: Chidi Nwaoma Uwa, Abba B. Mohammed and Usman A. Musale, in their unanimous decision, held that court is not empowered to run the party for members.
After cited plethora of decided cases, Justice Uwa in a lead judgment said the court is require to confine itself to the content of the appellant’s originating summons and affidavit in support and the response of the respondent therein.
They held that the appellant case before the lower court was an intra- party dispute and parties have their rules, regulation and procedure as to how their internal disputes are to be resolved in line with the party’s Constitution. “The court cannot delve into it at this stage. The compliant of the appellant is justiciable.
“The dispute is clearly an intra- party on in respect of the Ogun State Chapter of 1st respondent (PDP) to the effect that the 1st respondent violated its constitution by the executive contributing money to purchase the nomination form for one prospective candidate only and not other, preceding the party congress and primary.
“A political party is like an association where members are to run themselves. These are domestic affairs of the 1st respondent and it is not the duty of the court to choose for a political party who their leaders and executive to run the party affairs should be.”
But the court said the lower court was wrong to have turned around to label the same matter a pre-election one, domestic affairs of a political party are to be settle by the party itself not the court.
The appellate court in a judgement delivered on August 15,2022 held that, “The action that gave rise to appeal is not a pre-election matter, section 285(14)(a)- (c) did not include the purchase of nomination form for an intending aspirant of a political party which is clearly issue at hand, if it was intended, the section would have said so.
“The appellant sought an order dissolving the entire executives of the 1st respondent in Ogun State from the state to ward level with immediate effect. The court is not part of the decision making machine for members of the party, the first respondent.” Also the court is not in a position to ban the members of the first respondent executive committee from state to ward level from participating, conduct or supervising any congress in Ogun State which was fixed to commence from 23rd April 2022.
The court is also not empowered to appoint a three man ad-hoc committee ward delegates for the purpose of electing their gubernatorial candidate in the proposed state congress at the date fixed for 21st May, 2022.
The court also said that a political party is an association where members are to run it by themselves.
Meanwhile, the court stated that, though there is narrow window to have jurisdiction to look into the matter under section 84 (14) of the Electoral Act, 2022 following the conduct of primary and where a political party fails to comply with the Electoral Act and the party Constitution/ guideline for the nomination or selection done which is not the case here.
On the issue of non- joinder of the parties, the appellate court said that the judge is permitted to join any party that is necessary for proper determination of the matter.
The court resolved that lower court was wrong to have declined jurisdiction to entertain the matter on the basis on non joinder of the Exco members of the respondent.
“On the merits, the appeal succeed in part if issue one is resolved against the appellant and issue two and three are in favour of the appellant. Parties to bear their respective cost,” the court held.