Many political cases involving biggest Nigerians and leading political parties are going on in courts across the country Nigeria. A good number of these is expectedly be dispensed with in 2021 with far reaching consequences for the political landscape of the country. They include the one involving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its candidate in the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, Eyitayo Jegede, and the governor of the state, Rotimi Akeredolu; the certificate forgery case the All Progressives Congress (APC) filed against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State; the legal ding-dong between Jarigbe Agom and Stephen Odey over the Cross Rivers North senatorial seat; as well as Hilliard Eta’s case against the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Jegede vs Akeredolu in Ondo
The PDP and Eyitayo Jegede, its candidate in the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, are at the Ondo State Governorship Election Tribunal to challenge the declaration of Rotimi Akeredolu as winner of the election. Aside claims that the election was marred by irregularities, violence and intimidation, the petitioners are also faulting the APC governorship primaries that produced Akeredolu as flagbearer of his party.
At the first sitting of the tribunal meant to hear the petition, some supporters of the Governor and those of Jedege engaged in a fight at the High Court Road, Akure, the state capital. Reports have it that the supporters of the two politicians engaged in a bloody fight outside the venue of the tribunal’s sitting. Many people were reportedly injured in the fracas. Residents and other people caught in the melee ran for their safety and there was no vehicular movement in the area for almost one hour due to the fight.
The tribunal is still sitting while the two parties continue to express optimism. Last week, Jegede expressed optimism at the tribunal’s sitting that he would reclaim his mandate at the panel. The PDP candidate said he believes the judiciary will give him the victory stolen by the APC and Governor Akeredolu at the gubernatorial poll. But the APC on Wednesday said Jegede would fail at the state’s election petitions tribunal. The APC Director of Media and Publicity, Steve Otaloro, stressed that Akeredolu won the election because he was generally accepted by the people of the state.
The case will continue in 2021 with the tribunal is expected to give its verdict soon. Not a few pundits and stakeholders are keenly following happenings at the tribunal.
APC vs Obaseki in Edo
Earlier this month, the Federal High Court in Abuja, adjourned further hearing on the certificate forgery case the APC filed against Governor Godwin Obaseki, sine-die (indefinitely). The adjournment followed an appeal which the governor filed before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal. He prayed the court to stay further proceedings in the substantive suit, pending the determination of the appeal. Though the APC and Edobor Williams, who is the 2nd Plaintiff in the matter, opposed the request, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a ruling, said he was minded to adjourn the case sine-die.
Justice Mohammed held that “Where a lower court us aware of the existence of application for stay, it will be wrong to the trial court to proceed to hear the suit the application is seeking to stay proceedings on. This court must defer to the court of appeal. This court will not embark on a collision course with the Court of Appeal. This court will abide by whatever further direction the Court of Appeal may give. This suit is hereby adjourned sine-die to await the Court of Appeal’s decision on the 1st Defendant’s application for stay of further proceedings.” Irrespective of indefinite adjournment, hearing in the case will definitely resume in the New Year and it is expected that the lower court will pass a judgment soon. Whichever way it goes, it will be a landmark one.
The APC and Williams had alleged that Obaseki lied about his academic qualifications. They accused him of forging the university certificate he presented to INEC, in aid of his qualification for the governorship election that held in Edo State on September 19. They equally told the court that there were discrepancies in the subjects that Obaseki claimed he passed in his West African Examination Council (WAEC) exam and subjects in his testimonial. Consequently, they are praying the court to declare that Obaseki’s claim in his INEC form EC9 at column C, sworn to on June 29, 2020, at the Federal Capital Territory High Court Registry to the effect that he obtained from the University of Ibadan in 1979, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Classical Studies is false and contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010. They also want the court to declare that Obaseki lied on oath when he swore to an affidavit on June 29, 2020 that he worked in Afrinvest Limited from 1994 to 2014 when he retired.
Odey vs Jarigbe in Cross River
Last Tuesday December 29th, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, rejected a request for a stay of execution of the judgement which affirmed Honourable Jarigbe Agom as the authentic candidate of the PDP for the Cross River North Senatorial Bye- election. Recall that Justice Peter Ige of the court had on December 17, 2020 affirmed the candidacy of Hon. Jarigbe Agom for the election. But his opponent at the primary election, Senator Stephen Odey and PDP approached the court seeking an order for a stay of execution of the judgement.
Also, Odey, who was issued certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the PDP sought to be joined in the matter.
While the request of the PDP was turned down, that of Senator Odey was granted to continue the legal battle at the Supreme Court. Justice Binta Mohammed of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had in her judgment declared Jarigbe as the validly elected candidate of the party for the senatorial bye election.
Dissatisfied, Odey, who had been sworn in as a senator, approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the trial court. However, in a unanimous judgment, the appellate court dismissed the appeal as frivolous, vexatious and abuse of court process. Justice Peter Ige held that having not participated in the primary election of the party, the appellant lacked the locus standi to institute the suit. INEC was also ordered to give Hon. Jarigbe every other rights and privileges pertaining to his lawful qualification and nomination as the PDP candidate.
But the Appeal court victory for Agom is definitely not the end of the ding-dong. Already, Odey has been joined in the suit and he is approaching the Supreme Court, for a revocation of the order of the Appeal court. The legal firepower will surely resume in the New Year.
has taken the APC to court. Eta sued his party over its delayed convention and other matters. He wants the court to proclaim him the acting National Chairman. He filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Abuja requesting the current Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the party to leave office. He also wants a court order stopping the committee from organizing the party’s convention.
Joined in the lawsuit are members of Buni’s caretaker committee and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). INEC, he said, was included in the lawsuit because it was no longer dealing with the legitimate members of the APC’s leadership. Eta also argued in his suit that Buni could not legally hold the position of governor and caretaker chairman of the ruling party at the same time. Following failed efforts to get him to withdraw the suit, Eta was sacked from the ruling party recently.
But he has vowed to pursue the case to a logical end. Expectedly, hearing in the case will commence in 2021 and it sure promises to be an interesting one with far reaching consequences for the ruling party whichever way it goes.