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On Jimi Lawal’s Political Misadventure

THEWILL APP ADS 2

Jimi Lawal’s scheming to oust Ladi Adebutu as the Peoples Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate in Ogun State and take his place, has backfired. The Supreme Court dismissed two interlocutory appeals brought before it by Lawal. The appeals were dismissed after his counsel made a dramatic withdrawal.

Lawal had filed two appeals challenging the use of the court record transmitted by another party and the procedural policy in accepting and using the disputed record.

At the proceedings, a five-member panel of justices of the apex court subjected the appellant’s counsel to questioning over the desirability of pursuing interlocutory appeals at the expense of the substantive matter.

The presiding judge informed the counsel that the court had no luxury of spending time on interlocutory appeals before coming to the substantive matter and further drew the lawyer’s attention to the fact that the appellant’s appeal was time-bound and must be tackled at the substantive level instead of dissipating energies on the interlocutory ones.

Lawal’s counsel who claimed to have got the hint from the justices, subsequently applied for withdrawal of the appeals.

Both Lawal and Adebutu have been locked in a fierce legal battle on who should fly the party’s flag at the governorship election. Following the party primary that threw up Ladi, Lawal dragged the PDP, Adebutu and the Independent National Electoral Commission to court, challenging the authenticity of the delegates list used for the primaries.

He argued that the delegates were not democratically elected at the ward, local council and state congresses, hence the panel could not unilaterally or arbitrarily impose the list on the party. He prayed the court to, among others, nullify or set aside the primary. In September of 2022, a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta answered Lawal’s prayers and nullified all primary elections conducted by the various factions of the PDP in the state, (governorship, state house of assembly, house of representatives, senate).

The court declared that all the primaries conducted by the PDP in the state were not in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

Thus a rerun of the primaries within 14 days of the judgment was ordered. The judgment also prevented the national body of the PDP from organising the rerun primary. It rather ordered the state executive to handle it.

The court also barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party in the state. Adebutu had allegedly, initially agreed for the rerun but later changed his mind saying that he would appeal the judgment.

At the expiration of the 14 days, Lawal conducted his own rerun where Adebutu scored zero vote following which Lawal got suspended by the party for anti-party activities, vowing to challenge his dismissal from the party in court as well as to continue pursuing legal means to emerge PDP gubernatorial flag bearer.

However, the odds have now favoured Adebutu following the dismissal of Lawal’s suit at both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.