The Appeal Court decision in favour of factional Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate in Ogun State, Olusegun Adeyemi-Sowunmi, has continued to generate reactions, as his lawyer, has said there was no cause for worry.
Respondents in the case were the PDP, its National Working Committee, NWC and Oladipupo Adebutu.
It could be recalled that Adeyemi-Sowunmi had sued the PDP, its NWC and another factional governorship candidate of the party in Ogun State, Adebutu, seeking among others, the sack of the state and wards Executive Committees of the party for allegedly buying nomination form for Adebutu.
He accused members of the state executive of exhibiting bias, conflict of interest and breach of trust by contributing money to buy nomination form for only Adebutu, to the exclusion of other aspirants.
He prayed the court to determine “Whether considering the oath of office in the second schedule of the Constitution of the PDP, 2017 (as amended), and the provision of Sections 14(1), 15(2) (E),16(1), 24(1) (2) (b) of the constitution of the PDP, 2017 (as amended), the executive committee of the PDP Ogun State chapter have not shown bias, conflict of interest and breach of trust by contributing money to purchase nomination form for the 3rd respondent for the seat of the governor of Ogun State.” According to him, if the answer is in the affirmative, he prayed for the following reliefs:
*An order of the court dissolving the entire Executive of the 1st respondent in Ogun State from state to Ward levels with immediate effect.
*An order of this court directing the 1st respondent to appoint or set up a caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of the 1st respondent from state to ward levels in Ogun State for the purpose of the state congress.
In the alternative,
*An order of the court barring the entire members of the Executive Committee from the state to ward levels from participating, conducting or supervising any congress in Ogun State slated to commence from April 23, 2022.
*An order of the court directing the 1st respondent to appoint the three-man ad-hoc ward delegates for sole purpose of electing the gubernatorial candidate in the state congress slated for May 21, 2022.
The respondents at the lower court raised the issue of jurisdiction through a notice of preliminary objection and parties filed and exchanged processes and argued same.
The lower court was said to have discountenanced same and raised the issue of jurisdiction suo moto and directed parties to address the court orally on the same.
In a ruling on May 19, 2022, Justice A. Akinyemi of the Ogun State High Court declined jurisdiction over the case, holding that the suit was a pre-election one and that the state PDP EXCO was not made a party.
Adeyemi-Sowunmi, dissatisfied with the rulling appealed against same on May 20, 2022.
From his three grounds of appeal, the following issues where formulated for the determination of the appeal by the appellate court, thus:
*Whether the appellant’s complaint before the lower court was a pre-election matter. (Ground 1 of the notice of appeal)
*Whether the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over pre-election matters, assuming the appellant’s complaint is a pre-election dispute (Ground 2 of the notice of appeal)
*Whether the suit before the lower court is incompetent for non-joinder of the Ogun State Executive of the 1st Respondent (Ground 3 of the notice of appeal).
The 1st and 2nd respondents on their part also formulated three issues thus; “Whether the appellant’s originating summons was a pre-election matter; Whether only the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear pre-election matters; and whether the executive committees is the PDP in Ogun State from the Wards to state levels are necessary parties to the suit.
The third Respondent on his part formulated issues identical to those of the 1st and 2nd Respondents.
In its judgment, the Court of Appeal in Abuja faulted the decision by the high court of Ogun State refusing to hear a suit by Adeyemi-Sowunmi.
In the lead judgment by Justice Chidi Uwa, the appellate court held that the Ogun High Court was wrong to have declined jurisdiction on the grounds that the state EXCO, which was to be affected by the outcome of the suit, was not made a party.
The court equally faulted the Ogun High Court for holding that the case was a pre-election matter over which only the Federal High Court possesses jurisdiction.
The appellate court held that by the provision of Order 13 Rule 16(1) and (3) of the High Court of Ogun State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2014, the judge of the Ogun High Court provides that no case could be rejected on grounds of non-joinder of a necessary party.
Meanwhile, after the appellate court pronouncement, some persons tried to read a different meaning to the clear decision of the court.
Reacting, Showunmi’s counsel, Monday Mawah, said there was no cause for doubt.
He said that the issue brought by Showunmi before the Court of Appeal was whether or not the Ogun State High Court, sitting in Abeokuta, was right to have declined jurisdiction to entertain the matter brought before it.
The court in an unambiguous judgement allowed the appeal and set aside the ruling of the lower court as stated in the Certified True Copy of the judgement.
He warned mischief makers against misrepresenting the judgement.
He said: “Our attention has been drawn to desperate attempts by some persons to rewrite the clear pronouncement of the Court of Appeal that allowed the appeal of Showunmi in his case against the PDP and others, and set aside the judgement of the lower court.
“The issue brought by Showunmi before the Court of Appeal was whether or not the Ogun State High Court, sitting in Abeokuta, was right to have declined jurisdiction to entertain the matter brought before it.
“The Court of Appeal in a considered judgement held that the lower court was wrong to have declined jurisdiction, ruling that the matter brought before it was not a pre-election matter.
“The court went further to hold that the lower court was also wrong to have declined jurisdiction on the grounds of non-joinder of the Ogun State PDP Exco.
“On the whole, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and set aside the ruling of the lower court.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we want to put it on record that our client, Segun Showunmi, won his case at the Court of Appeal.
“Mischief makers should desist from misrepresenting the judgment,” he added.