Ondo PDP Tussle: Court to Decide Jegede’s Fate to Appeal Judgment on Oct. 26

An Abuja Federal High Court has reserved judgment till Oct. 26, whether to allow a factional governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State, Eyitayo Jegede, to be joined in an appeal against the decision of the court that recognised the Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction, whose primary produced Ibrahim Jimoh as the authentic PDP governorship candidate in the November 26 guber election.
Justice Okon Abang had on June 29 declared as illegal the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee of the national leadership of the PDP.
The Judge ruled that the Makarfi-faction was illegal because it was a product of the party’s convention which held on May 21 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in defiance of an earlier order of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, which had stopped the said convention from holding.
In that judgment, Justice Abang had referred to the Justice Buba’s May 12 order from Lagos, restraining the PDP from conducting any election into the offices of its National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor, occupied by Sheriff an others.
According to the court, “Ali Modu Sheriff is the National Chairman of the PDP. Any decision not taken by the Sheriff-led committee is not binding on the PDP.
“That order is still subsisting and has not been vacated. Yet again, on May 20, the court made another order, directing INEC and the PDP to maintain the status quo on issue relating to the position of the plaintiffs pending the determination of the suit before it.
“Later in the same month, the PDP held a convention that removed these plaintiffs and set up a Caretaker Committee that led to the emergence of Makarfi, who briefed you (Obi) to appear in this matter.
“The question is, does the Port Harcourt Division have jurisdiction to entertain proceedings that led to various orders made by it and the judgment delivered on July 4, which neutralised the potency of the previous order by the Lagos Division, with the judges having coordinate jurisdiction?
“That was notwithstanding the fact that under Section 249 of the constitution, the Federal High Court is one.
“This is having regard to established principle of law that where an order, which ought to have been made, is made in error, a court of coordinate jurisdiction has the power to set it aside.”
He said on the basis of the order made by the court in the Lagos Division, Makarfi could not legally hold the office he was laying claim to.
He ruled that Sheriff was the leader of the party recognised by subsisting court order.
The judge ruled, “Parties have an uncompromising duty to obey a court order until it is set aside. The Lagos Division made orders on May 12 and 20, forbidding the PDP from removing the Sheriff-led caretaker committee. That order is still subsisting.
“Having regard to the order of the court, the PDP had no lawful authority to hold the convention that led to the emergence of the Makarfi-led committee.
“The convention was unlawfully held and the caretaker committee was unlawfully and illegally appointed and could not take any legal decision for the PDP in view of the subsisting order of the Lagos Division of this court.
“Consequently, any action taken by the Makarfi-led committee, including the purported mandate for legal representation in this matter, is hereby declared illegal.
“If the Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee, as apostles of impunity, missed their way to the Port Harcourt Division of this court, that court could not have conveniently assumed jurisdiction to set aside the earlier decision of the Lagos Division.
“I hold that the Port Harcourt Division of this court cannot make an order to neutralise the potency of the Lagos Division of this court dated May 12 and 20.”
Meanwhile, Jutice Abang, Thursday, granted leave to Jegede to rely on the affidavit earlier filed in support of his motion to join as an interested party to appeal the decision of the the Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Abang to recognised the Sheriff-led faction of PDP.
In a short ruling on Thursday, Abang over ruled the opposition of the counsels to the respondents which include Ibrahim Jimoh and PDP (Sheriff led faction) to disallow the sworn affidavit as basis to be joined as interested party in appeal.
Earlier, counsel for the first and second respondents Alex Izinyon, argured that allowing the applicant to be joined as interested party in the appeal on the basis of a sworn affidavit will be improper.
Izinyon said where an application is seeking leave to appeal as an invested party, the applicant must have shown the record of proceedings and not be sworn affidavit. “All the applicant is dealing is affidavit evidence. They are irrelevant, barbaric and of no use.
“It is the affidavit of a fact of the record of proceedings to show how the interest of the applicant has been affected him and not affidavit in support. The applicant is not challenging that judgment or show how it affected him and should thrown out”, he submitted.
He averred further that Jegede should not be allowed join in as interested party to appeal the June 29 judgment.
He said: “It is PDP that has the right to be joined. He (Jegede) has not the capacity to bring the application. It is political party that submits names of candidates to INEC and not individual. If there is going to be a complain that someone was sidelined in the submission of name to INEC, it lies on the political party and not the candidate to come before the court to say the list that has been submitted was not correct and that what the applicant is trying to do.
“It is the PDP that ought to complain but it cannot because it is a party in this matter.
“This application is predicated on a ruling of this court on June 29, which determined the right of a party. If the applicant wants to be heard he has to attach judgment of June 29 that he has appealed that judgment.
“He cannot put something on nothing when that judgment is still intact. There is no application to set aside this judgment because of fraud. So long that judgment remains valid which makes the application invalid and stand on its head, it is non starters”, he summed.
The PDP counsel, Godswill Mrakpo said the party aligned itself with submissions of Izinyon.
He countered the application of the applicant, saying it was an attempt to build a house from the roof.
According to him, Subsection 24 3A, which provides for the person who has no interest in a matter has no right to appeal judgment.
“The criteria to fulfill for an applicant to be joined is whether the applicant is to the original suit.”
“Can you question a fruit of a tree when you are not a root of that three? Can you complain why a mango tree produces orange fruit? ”
Mrakpo averred that the judgment of this court settles the issue of who is in charge of PDP in Ondo state.” They are not quarrelling that judgment or appeal against it, meaning they have accepted with judgement, so why quarrelling with fruit of that judgment”, he queried
It is not every body that is affected by a judgement that has the right to be joined as interested party.
He noted that non of the 16 grounds challenged the decision or judgment of June 29 so had lost the right to be joined as interested party.
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Author: News Editor

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