The Supreme Court, on Monday, ordered the re-hearing of a suit that is challenging the legality of the governorship primary election the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, conducted in Ogun State.
The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-man panel of Justices, remitted the suit which was filed by an aggrieved aspirant of the party, Jimi Adebisi Lawal, back to the Federal High Court for hearing.
It faulted the high court for previously declaring that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
In its lead judgment that was read on Monday by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, the Supreme Court held that section 6 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, conferred the high court with the requisite jurisdiction bro hear and determine the pre-election matter.
It held that the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal was right when it also returned the case file back to the high court for a fresh hearing of the suit on its merit.
More so, the apex court, while affirming the September 30 judgment of the appellate court, directed the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to assign the case file to a different judge.
It berated the former trial judge that handled the matter, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, over his failure to hear a preliminary objection that was filed by one of the parties, together with the substantive suit.
“It amounted to an act of indiscretion on the part of the trial judge for him to bypass the provision of the law and judicial precedents requiring that the preliminary objection and the main suit be taken together.
“We, as judicial officers, must always bear it in mind that we have a duty to protect the honor and integrity of the Judiciary”, Justice Saulawa added.
He dismissed the appeal Lawal lodged against the Court of Appeal judgment as lacking in merit.
It will be recalled that a three-man panel of the appellate court had earlier vacated the high court judgment that was in favor of a factional governorship candidate of the PDP, in Ogun State, Oladipupo Adebutu.
The appellate court okayed a fresh hearing of the matter after it held that the high court judge was wrong to have declined jurisdiction to entertain the case.
It further noted that the statutory 180 days for hearing of the case, being a pre-election matter, had yet to elapse.
The plaintiff in the matter, Lawal, had approached the high court to challenge the delegates list that was used in the conduct of the governorship primary election the PDP held in the state on May 25, 2022.
He contended that the list was not in tandem with names of delegates he said were democratically elected at the ward congresses.