A judge in the Federal High Court (FHC) in Abuja, on Thursday, scheduled a hearing on a petition filed by Mr Jimi Lawal, a candidate for governor who lost the Ogun Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary poll on May 25.
After hearing arguments on both sides, Justice Inyang Ekwo set a date after the attorneys agreed on a procedure.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Lawal filed a lawsuit against the PDP, INEC, and Mr Oladipupo Adebutu (the “1st,” “2nd,” and “3rd” defendants) on March 22, with the case number FHC/ABJ/CS/773/22.
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Lawal had disputed the PDP’s selection of Adebutu as their candidate for governor in the primary election held on May 25.
He claimed the party’s election was rigged with an illegal delegates list.
Lawal and others had asked for a new primary election to be held with the actual ad hoc delegates and cancellation of the one scheduled on May 25.
According to NAN, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of an FHC previously presided over the case, but the case was dismissed since the judge did not have the authority to rule on the matter.
In his ruling on July 29, Justice Taiwo ruled that the primary election fell within the purview of each political party as an internal matter.
Lawal took his case to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, arguing that the FHC’s ruling should be overturned because of a miscarriage of justice.
In a decision handed down on September 30, three justices of the Court of Appeal agreed with Jimi Lawal, reversed the FHC’s ruling, and mandated a new trial.
Since the PDP was also unhappy with the Court of Appeal’s ruling, it filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking that the Federal High Court’s ruling that the party’s internal procedures be used to run the primary election be sustained.
The PDP appealed to the Supreme Court, but the court on Monday ruled against them.
The Supreme Court decided to send Lawal’s lawsuit back to the FHC for a new trial.
Justice Ibrahim Saulawa opined in his decision that the FHC erred by refusing jurisdiction over the case of Lawal.
The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeal in Abuja that the FHC has jurisdiction to consider the dispute under Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 84  of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Since Justice Taiwo declined to hear the matter, the Supreme Court directed it back to the FHC’s Chief Judge for resolution by another judge.
Lawal’s attorney, Mr Kanu Agabi, asked the court to sustain his submission on Thursday. In contrast, PDP and Adebutu’s attorney, Mr Chris Uche (SAN), asked the court to approve his preliminary objection and dismiss the complaint because it was frivolous and lacked merit.
After hearing arguments from all sides, including INEC’s attorney Bashir Abubakar, Justice Ekwo postponed the ruling until December 1.
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