The attention of the Engr. Adebayo Dayo-led Ogun State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been drawn to a press statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan in which he deprecated the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to comply with valid and subsisting judgments and orders of court.
It should be clearly pointed out that INEC did not accept the list of candidates from any state chapter. Rather, the Commission merely complied with several judgments and orders of court in FHC/L/CS/636/2016, FHC/L/CS/1556/2017and FHC/ABK/CS/114/2018.
We make haste to add that the appeal against the over two and a half years old judgment in FHC/L/CS/636/2016 has since been dismissed by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal (precisely, on the 4th of May, 2017). A further attempt to have the appeal relisted was struck out on the 11th of July, 2018 and a cost of N200, 000 awarded against the applicants. Therefore, there is no pending appeal against the substantive judgment in FHC/L/CS/636/2016. What is presently before the Supreme Court is an application asking the apex court to review the decision of the Court of Appeal not to relist the dismissed appeal.
Clearly, the decision of the electoral body is in conformity with established norms and standards all over the world. It is in the interest of our democracy and the course of justice for everybody to obey court decisions. The Supreme Court has stated and restated this duty in several decisions beyond any iota of doubt. To re-emphasise and underscore the duty to obey court judgments and orders, we commend to the national leadership of our Party and the general public the decision of the Supreme Court in F.A.T.B. v. Ezegbu (1992) 9 NWLR (Pt. 264) 132 at 146, which relied on the decision of the English court in which it was held as follows:
“A party who knows of an order, whether null and void, regular or irregular, cannot be permitted to disobey it…It would be most dangerous to hold that suitors or their solicitors, could themselves judge whether an order was null and void – whether it was regular or irregular. That they should come to the court and not take upon themselves to determine such a question; that the cause of a party knowing of an order which was null and irregular and who might be affected by it was plain. He should apply to the court that it might be discharged. As long as it existed, it must be obeyed.”
We further hold that even where the rules guiding elections in Nigeria state that it is the National Chairman and National Secretary that should submit the list of candidates, that cannot be done in a vacuum and in defiance of subsisting judgments and orders of court. There has to be a state executive committee and structure through which the national leadership of the party operates. If the national leadership of the party decides to sidestep the authentic state structure and continues to act in flagrant disobedience of valid and subsisting court judgments and orders, it cannot justifiably cry foul if the court decides to rein it in – and INEC as a law-abiding institution equally decides to comply.
This is exactly the case here. There were disputes over the Ogun State PDP Exco. When the leadership of the party decided to take sides with one of the contending groups instead of resolving the issues, one of them went to court and got judgment in its favour. The national leadership of the Party decided to ignore the group pronounced as the validly elected State Exco and continued to align with the outlawed group. Then parallel primaries were held for the 2019 general election by the two groups. The group which has two judgments in its favour (FHC/L/CS/636/2016 and FHC/L/CS/1556/2017) returned to court in FHC/ABK/CS/114/2018 with the list of its candidates having been held in compliance with the subsisting judgments of court. The court upheld the outcome of its primaries and directed INEC to comply. And that was all the electoral body did. No more, no less.
Finally, as we have always said, this was a family dispute that was allowed to fester for too long because of the selfish interests of a few powerful people. But, we thank God that the judiciary has again proven to be the last hope of the common man. Therefore, we wish to extend our hand of fellowship to our brothers and sisters on the other side. We are members of the same family. Let us come together and work as a united front in the overall interest of the long-suffering people of Ogun State. They are waiting for us to rescue them from the hardship that the APC has subjected them to, in Ogun State and elsewhere.
Engr. Adebayo Dayo
Chairman, Ogun State PDP
31st October, 2018