The ruling party, APC, and the opposition, PDP, have disagreed over the decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, Ondo State, to dismiss the petition filed by Eyitayo Jegede against Rotimi Akeredolu in the October 2020 governorship election.
While the APC said the court decision was an affirmation of the people’s decision, the PDP expressed its displeasure over the judgment.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that the appeal court’s lead Theresa Orji-Abadua, on Wednesday, said the case filed by Mr Jegede lacked merit.
“The appeal is partly allowed and partly dismissed and the appellant’s case is also dismissed,” she said in the judgment delivered virtually.
Reacting to the judgment, the PDP in a statement issued by the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Kennedy Peretei, said the appeal court’s decision would be challenged at the Supreme Court.
“The Peoples Democratic Party in Ondo State and candidate of the party at the October 2020 Gubernatorial election will challenge the Court of Appeal decision at the Supreme Court.
“In concluding her lead judgment, Hon. Justice Theresa Orji-Abadua said the appeal was partially dismissed and partially allowed. To the ordinary man in the street, the judgment was “inconclusive” and we must approach the Supreme Court to help them conclude the judgment.
“The kernel of the Eyitayo Jegede/PDP petition was whether or not a gross violation of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) should be allowed to stay. Whether or not Mai Mala Buni, as a sitting Governor of Yobe State can double as National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, to sign the nomination of Rotimi Akeredolu, for the governorship election. While the Court of Appeal acknowledged that it was a violation of the Constitution, it still went ahead to dismiss the appeal,” the statement read.
On the other hand, the APC in a statement by its spokesperson, Alex Kalejaiye, said the judgment was an affirmation of the people’s decision.
“The ruling party applauded the Court of Appeal Panel for cementing the judgment of the Tribunal, by upholding a dispassionate, and objective stand on the matter.
“The state APC Chairman, Adetimehin rejoiced with all the members of the state chapter and the good people of Ondo State, urging them to continually support the performing APC-led government in the Sunshine State.”
Mr Jegede’s counsel, Oyeachi Ikpeazu, had approached the appeal court, saying Mr Akeredolu’s nomination by his party was unconstitutional.
This came after an election petition tribunal, led by Umar Abubakar, ruled on April 20, 2021, that the qualification of the APC candidate and his deputy was not a pre-election matter, but a constitutional matter, which is not within its jurisdiction.
“The issue raised therein in this petition are settled issues of internal affairs and management of a political party which this tribunal has no jurisdiction,” the tribunal said then.
This was in accordance with the argument of the counsels of Mr Akeredolu, and the electoral body, INEC.
Mr Akeredolu won in 15 of the state’s 18 local government areas in the October 2020 election.
Mr Jegede won in the remaining three local governments.
A total of 17 candidates took part in the election.
INEC’s returning officer and vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan (UI), Idowu Olayinka, made the announcement after all the results across the state’s 18 local government areas were collated.
Akeredolu woos Jegede
Mr Akeredolu, in a statement shortly after the appellate court’s verdict, said, “notwithstanding the verdict of the appeal court, it is another great opportunity for Jegede to join in the task.
“The Appeal Court has just, a while ago, delivered a landmark judgment, affirming my election as the duly-elected Governor of Ondo State alongside my Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
“Understandably, many had waited in animated breaths for the outcome of this case, which commenced from the lower tribunal to this extent.
“This is a permissible venture in clearly inoffensive exercise of the rights of litigants. No grudges against any in this regard.
“All have seen the scholarly industry infused into this judicial exercise by the most venerable honourable Appeal Court of eminent jurists.
“The issues examined and conclusions reached have further enriched our nation’s jurisprudence, no doubt,” he said.
Mr Akeredolu, who said the responsibility of leadership reposed in him was tasking, explained that the partnership could only be beneficial if everyone set aside politics for the common goal.
According to him, this collective, bi-partisan efforts and approach are more desirable now, than anyone can imagine.
“This is because we have all won together, and together must we develop our dear state,” he said.