Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court yesterday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State.
Mr. Eyitayo Jegede was the candidate of the party, and by this ruling, his candidature becomes nullified.
In his ruling on an application filed by the Chairman and Secretary of the PDP in Ondo State, Prince Biyi Poroye and Ademola Genty and others in Osun and Oyo respectively, Justice Abang held that INEC has no reason to reject the candidate submitted to INEC by the plaintiffs.
The said application was for the enforcement of a June 29, 2016 judgment of the court affirming Poroye, Genty and others, who emerged from the May 10, 2016 congresses of the party in the Southwest, as the authentic leaders of the party in the Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos states.
In the June 29 judgment, justice Abang further ordered INEC to only accept the name of the candidate sent by the Pororye and Genty Executive Committee as the actual candidate of the party for the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State.
The applicants had applied to the court for themselves and on behalf of the Ondo State Executive Committee of the PDP, stating that the post-judgment application was informed by INEC’s refusal to accept their candidate, as directed by the court in its June 29 judgment.
It was their contention that the electoral body was aware that the judgment of the court relates to five other states where the general elections would hold in 2019 and is in good position to understand the implications of the judgment for Ondo State, where elections would hold in 2016, but chose to ignore the obvious implication.
In addition, they also stated that INEC was also aware that the judgment was predicated upon the May 19, 2016 letter of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, which was addressed to it (INEC), confirming to it that Pororye and Genty are leaders of the authentic state Executive Committee of the party in Ondo State.
In his ruling yesterday, Justice Abang held that INEC was without any reason not to accept the candidate submitted to INEC by the plaintiffs.
He noted that not only did INEC participate in the proceedings leading to the June 29 judgment; it was not on record that the judgment has been appealed.
The judge, who also noted that since INEC did not contest the case and appealed the judgement, wondered why it chose not to obey it.
Justice Abang ordered INEC to, “accept and process for the purpose of its functions and activities in the organisation and conduct of the Ondo State governorship election only the nomination of Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim Folorunso, who emerged from the primary election conducted by the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs/applicants, as candidate of the 2nd defendant (PDP) in the said Ondo governorship election.”
He also ordered INEC to “reject and jettison any other nomination from(s) submitted to it by any other person(s) apart from the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs/applicants, indicating that no other person, apart from Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim Folorunso, is the candidate of the 2nd defendant for the Ondo State governorship election.”
Meanwhile, Jegede has said that the judgment was not binding on him.
In a statement issued by his media team yesterday night, Jegede said
he remains the authentic candidate of the PDP for the election.