The battle for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State has shifted to the court.
Moshood Adeoti, who lost to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola in the primary election at the weekend, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to declare him winner of the shadow poll.
In the direct primary conducted by a committee, chaired by Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasak, the governor polled 222,169 votes to beat Adeoti, who scored 12, 921 votes and former House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, who got 460 votes.
Adeoti was supported by Minister of Interior and former Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Supporters of the plaintiff had previously challenged the outcome of the ward and local government congresses in court at Osogbo and Ikire. The cases were dismissed.
Many stakeholders have lauded Governor AbdulRasak for conducting a free, fair and transparent exercise.
Before the commencement of the poll, he allowed the aspirants to crosscheck the party membership register to allay any fear of exclusion of their supporters from the register and from voting.
The voting, sorting, counting and poll announcement was also transparent.
Civil society groups who monitored the exercise urged other parties and states to learn from the Osun experience.
But Adeoti prayed the court for a declaration that he was the validly nominated candidate.
Adeoti further prayed the court to declare that Oyetola was not qualified to contest under the party’s constitution, because he is an officer of the party.
He also sought, among others, an order directing the APC to forward his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the validly nominated candidate, rather than Oyetola.
Adeoti, the plaintiff, made the prayers in his originating summons in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/203 filed through his counsel, Chiesonu Okpoko, SAN.
The APC, Oyetola and INEC, who are the 1st to 3rd defendants respectively, are yet to file a reply.
Oyetola swept all the 30 Local Government Areas (LGA) and Ife-East Area Office in the primary.
In his suit, Adeoti raised seven questions for determination, to challenge Oyetola’s victory.
He contended, among others, that Oyetola was by virtue of his appointment by the APC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) as a member of the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary and Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), was an officer of the party.
According to him, Oyetola ought to have resigned his membership of the CECPC and leave office as an officer of the party at least 30 days prior to the date of the primary to qualify for participation in the primary.
He argued that this “refusal and/or neglect to resign his membership of the CECPC, disqualified him as a candidate in the primary.
The plaintiff prayed the court for 12 reliefs, including “A declaration that by virtue of Article 2 of the 1st Defendant’s Constitution (October 2014 as Amended), the decisions of the CECPC or any of its organs or any committee set up by it, cannot override the provisions of the 1st Defendant’s Constitution.
“A declaration that by the combined effect of section 222 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) and Article 31 (1li) of the 1st Defendant’s (October 2014 as Amended), the 2nd Defendant ought to have resigned his membership of the CECPC and leave office as an officer of the 1st Defendant at least 30 days prior to the date of the 1st Defendant’s Osun State primary election to qualify for participation in the sald 1st Defendant’s primary election.”
A declaration that by virtue of the Oyetola’s failure to resign or leave his office as a member of the CECPC at least 30 days before the Primary he was “disqualified from contesting in the said primary election of 19th February, 2022.
He further sought a declaration that Oyetola having participated in the primary “is a grave violation or breach of the principle of audi alterem partem and Nemo judex in causa sua”
Other reliefs are “a declaration that the 2nd Defendant is disqualified from contesting as an aspirant in the 1st Defendant’s Osun State Governorship primary of 19th February, 2022 in Osun State.
“A declaration that all the votes cast in favour of the 2nd Defendant in the 1st Defendant’s Osun State Governorship Primary of 19th February, 2022 are invalid and/or throw away votes and/or wasted votes., the 2nd Defendant being unqualified to contest in the said Primaries.
“An order restraining the 1st Defendant from sending the name of the 2nd Defendant to the 3rd Defendant as a candidate in the 1st Defendant’s Governorship primary of 19th February, 2022 in Osun State.
“An order restraining the 1st and 3rd Defendants from recognizing the 2nd Defendant as the winner of 1st Defendant’s Governorship primary of 19th February, 2022 in Osun State.
“An order declaring the PLAINTIFF as the validly nominated candidate of the 1st Defendant having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast in the 1st Defendant’s Osun State Governorship Primary of 19th February, 2022.
“An order directing the 1st Defendant to forward the name of the PLAINTIFF to the 3rd Defendant as the validly nominated candidate of the I” Defendant having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast in the I* Defendant’s Osun State Governorship Primary of 19th February, 2022