The Court of Appeal in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, has affirmed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faction, led by Chief Gboyega Oguntuase, as the authentic exco.
The court, in a judgment yesterday, set aside the verdict of the Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti, delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, which ruled that the Chief Williams Ajayi-led faction was validly elected.
Ruling on the faction that is constitutionally-empowered to produce the party’s standard-bearer for July 14 governorship election, the court said: “That is the internal mechanism of a party and no court can meddle in that.”
Oguntuase, who was dissatisfied with the lower court, approached the Appellate Court, urging it to set aside the judgment, which favoured Ajayi.
A factional crisis erupted in Ekiti PDP on March 9, 2017, when parallel state congresses were held, which produced a faction, led by Oguntuase, loyal to Governor Ayo Fayose.
Another faction is led by Ajayi, loyal to Senator Buruji Kashamu.
In the judgment of the three-man panel, read by Justice Fatima Akinbami, the court agreed with the position canvassed by the appellant, saying the PDP has the power to regulate itself.
The court held: “The Supreme Court ruled that the National Convention remains the topmost legal body that can regulate the party and said the need to constitute a caretaker committee was agreed at a convention and that made whatever they did at the state level legal.
“The lower court didn’t even take into cognisance the issue of jurisdiction raised by the defendants (PDP and Oguntuase) that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first instance. Rather than consider this, the judge went ahead and delivered his judgment.
“The issue of preliminary objection raised by these defendants on the strength of jurisdiction and the power of the party to regulate itself without interference was valid.
“We hereby set aside the judgment of the lower court in this regard.”