The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the victory of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last governorship election in Ondo State.
With a split decision of four-to-three, Akeredolu’s victory was affirmed after four of the seven justices of the Supreme Court that heard the case upheld his candidacy in the October 10, 2020 election in the state, while three other justices disagreed with the majority judgement, insisting that Akeredolu’s candidacy in that election is a nullity.
In the majority judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, four of the seven-member panel, dismissed the appeal by Eyitayo Jegede and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the grounds that it was incompetent.
Justice Agim upheld an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, that the petition filed by Jegede and his party at the election tribunal was incompetent because they failed to include Yobe Governor and Chairman of ther Caretaker Committee of the APC, Mai Mala Buni as a party.
In the minority judgment read by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, the court upheld the appeal and dismissed the cross appeal by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Akeredolu and the APC.
Odili and two other members of the panel were of the view that since the APC, for which Buni acted, was a party in the case, there was no need to include him as a party.
The PDP and its candidate, Eyitayo Jegede had earlier approached the appeal court to challenge the candidacy of Akeredolu, insisting that his nomination form was signed by a sitting Governor Mai Buni who doubles as the Acting National Chairman of the party.
The appeal was based on the constitutional provision which forbids sitting Governors from holding executive positions outside their statutory position as governors.
They prayed the court to nullify Akeredolu’s candidacy, but the Court of Appeal in Akure, Ondo State capital, on June 16, struck out the appeal for lack of merit.
At the Supreme Court, the outcome was the same for the PDP as the majority judgement backed the decision of the appeal court.