The Supreme Court of Nigeria, on Thursday, dismissed an appeal filed by Prince Oyedotun Babayemi seeking to be declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the now-rested July 16 Governorship election in Osun State.
The apex Court in Suit No: SC/CV/914/2022: (Prince Oyedotun Babayemi V PDP, INEC & Ademola Adeleke), affirmed Senator Ademola Adeleke as the validly elected PDP candidate for the said election.
Babayemi had filed his Notice of Appeal in time but but filed the second one on Day 15, contrary to Section 285. He abandoned the first and based his Brief on the second ‘incompetent’ one. The Justices noted that the Notice of Appeal was incompetent and dismissed same with no cost.
The panel led by Justice Amina Augie ruled that the case was statute-barred having been filed outside the 14 days Constitutional period set out for Appeal.
Prince Babayemi and Senator Adeleke had locked horns in a legal battle over who was validly elected after parallel primaries were conducted in different locations of the State Capital, Osogbo.
On March 8, Babayemi was declared winner of the primary election held at the Women and Children Development Initiative Foundation (WOCDIF) in Osogbo.
However, on the same day, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) monitored and recognised the NWC-backed Primary held at the Osogbo City Stadium, under the supervision of Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, as Chairman with Senator Adeleke announced winner.
In a list of candidates later released by INEC, Adeleke was recognised as duly elected, a decision which set a template for a flurry of litigations.
It was for this reason that Babayemi filed a suit at the Federal High Court to challenge the nomination of Adeleke by the PDP to INEC and the validity of the primaries conducted at the Stadium against the one conducted at WOCDIF.
The Judge, held that the Court can not dabble into the internal affairs of a political party. Justice Emmanuel said the primary that produced Babayemi did not follow provisions of Sections 82 (1) and (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
As a corollary to the above, the learned Judge added that Section 84(5) of the Electoral Act 2022 vests only the NEC/NWC of the Party (not the State Chapter or any faction) with the powers to conduct the primaries of that Party.
Not happy with the ruling, Prince Babayemi approached the penultimate Court in Akure, challenging the judgment of the Federal High Court and seeking to be declared the PDP Governorship Candidate.
The Appeal Court, on July 20, accordingly upheld the decisions of the trial Court and dismissed the suit. Unsurprisingly dissatisfied with the judgement, Babayemi filed an appeal at the apex Court.
Adeleke and the PDP went on to defeat incumbent, Adegboyega Oyetola (APC) in the Guber Election.