THE Supreme Court, in a split decision of four to three on Wednesday, dismissed the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede against the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in the October 10, 2020, Ondo State governorship election.

While four out of the seven-member panel of justices of the apex court dismissed the appeal for failure to join Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni as a party in the petition, three of the justices, including the presiding justice, Mary Peter-Odili are of the view that the appeal should be allowed.

The lead judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim held that the issue raised in the appeal was that Buni, as the executive governor of Yobe State, cannot act in the capacity of the acting national chairman of the All Progressive Party (APC). Justice Ejembi said the inability of the appellants to include Buni, who is at the centre of the main issue as a party rendered the appeal incompetent.

He said it was not in dispute that Buni was chairman, caretaker committee of the APC and that he forwarded the names of the candidates of the party to INEC in that capacity.

“This decision is not justifiable. This appeal failed and it is therefore dismissed. The cross appeals are also incompetent and are also dismissed, no order as to cost.

“It is my opinion that it is the governor who was alleged to have breached Section 183 of the constitution and should have been joined in the matter to answer to the allegation.

“The court below was right to uphold the decision of the tribunal by dismissing the appeal,” he held and consequently dismissed Jegede’s appeal, along with the cross appeals.

The justices in the majority judgment are of the view that Buni was a necessary party in the matter and ought to have been joined and that failure to do that rendered the appeal incompetent.

Justices Odili, Eko and Ibrahim Saulawa dissented in their judgment on the grounds that, Section 183 of the constitution prohibits Buni, being the executive governor of Yobe from holding another executive position concurrently.

She held that Buni’s letter presenting Akeredolu as the governorship candidate of the APC for the Ondo gubernatorial election to INEC had no value and should be ignored.

Eko, on his part, held that the APC cannot violate or cause any of its members to violate the constitution and added that when there is a principal, there is no need to sue the agent.

“The APC cannot act in impunity to either its constitution or the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, he held and allowed the appeal.

The two other justices who dissented in their judgment held that joining Buni in the matter was not necessary.

Meanwhile, the PDP candidate in the 2020 governorship election in Ondo State, on Wednesday, accepted defeat, congratulating Governor Akeredolu, after the decision of the Supreme Court. Jegede in a statement, while reacting to the Supreme Court judgment, said the outcome of the judgment should not deter good and well-meaning individuals from aspiring for leadership in the state and country. Jegede, in the statement personally signed by him, expressed his belief in the judiciary saying “with this outcome, our respect and reverence for the judiciary and our justices of the supreme court has not diminished.”

Jegede also commended the leadership and governors of the PDP for their support, saying “for our governors who provided the required leadership and kept faith with our aspiration, gratitude, history will judge you right.

“With this outcome, our respect and reverence for the judiciary and our justices of the supreme court has not diminished.”

However, the PDP in the state said the judgment of the Supreme Court has shown that the nation’s democracy is on trial but accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court being the apex court in the land.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Mr Kennedy Peretei, who noted that the party fought a good fight.

Peretei said in the statement that “The implication of this verdict is that the nonjoinder of Buni is more fatal to the petition than the infringement on the constitution.

“Our party wishes to encourage all our party supporters to remain steadfast and be consoled that we fought a good fight, from the beginning to the end.

“The Supreme Court is the “Guardian Angel” of our constitution and democracy. To ensure that nobody tramples upon it without consequence. “To this end, the judgment will also go into history as one of the major tests of our democracy which ought to be guided by the rule of law.

“As much as we are not discouraged by this verdict, we shall continue to pursue that which will make life easier for the people of Ondo State.”

Reacting, Akeredolu, on Wednesday in Akure, Ondo State capital, said the verdict has laid to rest distractions by the opposition to send him packing from office, appreciating the judiciary for standing by the truth.

He called on Jegede to join him in developing the state.

Meanwhile, the APC in the state has commended the judiciary over what it described as a sound and faultless judgment on the state governorship election petition.

The party in a statement signed by its publicity secretary, Alex Kalejaye, said “We urge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to appeal to the privy council of the United Kingdom, where the party and its governorship candidate take exception to the collapse of their petition. “The party is thrilled by the resolve of the apex court to uphold the decisions of the lower courts on the petition. The truth is always constant,” the party said.

The PDP has also noted that the split judgment by the Supreme Court on what it observed as the flawed nomination of Governor Akeredolu showed that there is merit in its appeal against his election as governor.

The main opposition party made this declaration in a statement issued by Kola Ologbondiyan, its national publicity secretary, which also pointed out that the majority judgment as presented by the Supreme Court, in a split decision of four to three on Wednesday dismissed the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede against the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in the October 10, 2020 Ondo State governorship election.

While four out of the seven-member panel of justices of the apex court dismissed the appeal for failure to join Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni as a party in the petition, three of the justices, including the presiding justice, Mary Peter-Odili are of the view that the appeal should be allowed. The lead judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim held that the issue raised in the appeal was that Buni, as the executive governor of Yobe State, cannot act in the capacity of the acting national chairman of the All Progressive Party (APC). Justice Ejembi said the inability of the appellants to include Buni, who is at the centre of the main issue as a party rendered the appeal incompetent.

He said it was not in dispute that Buni was chairman, caretaker committee of the APC and that he forwarded the names of the candidates of the party to INEC in that capacity.

“This decision is not justifiable. This appeal failed and it is therefore dismissed. The cross appeals are also incompetent and are also dismissed, no order as to cost.

“It is my opinion that it is the governor who was alleged to have breached Section 183 of the constitution and should have been joined in the matter to answer to the allegation.

“The court below was right to uphold the decision of the tribunal by dismissing the appeal,” he held and consequently dismissed Jegede’s appeal, along with the cross appeals.

The justices in the majority judgment are of the view that Buni was a necessary party in the matter and ought to have been joined and that failure to do that rendered the appeal incompetent.

Justices Odili, Eko and Ibrahim Saulawa dissented in their judgment on the grounds that, Section 183 of the constitution prohibits Buni, being the executive governor of Yobe from holding another executive position concurrently.

She held that Buni’s letter presenting Akeredolu as the governorship candidate of the APC for the Ondo gubernatorial election to INEC had no value and should be ignored. Eko, on his part held that the APC cannot violate or cause any of its members to violate the constitution and added that when there is a principal, there is no need to sue the agent.

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