Ondo PDP Tussle : Appeal Court Adjourns Indefinitely, Awaits S’Court Decision

The special panel set up by the President, Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to hear appeals from the Ondo Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries , Friday, adjourned indefinitely on all appeals pending before it.
In a brief ruling on Friday, the three-man panel said it took the action to allow the Supreme Court rule on the jurisdiction of the panel and interlocutory motion filed by the respondents in the cases before it.
According to Ibrahim Salauwa, who led the panel, there was need to allow the apex court determine whether the panel was properly constituted as argured by counsel to the factional Chairman of the party in the state and eight others, who are the respondents in almost all the cases.
On November 10, the panel had ruled that it was properly formed to hear appeals arising from Ondo PDP Primaries. It also passed judgment that Eyitayo Jegede, the governorship candidate, who emerged from the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi led Caretaker Committee primary had grounds to appeal the judgment of Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja on June 29 and October 14.
On June 29, Justice Okon Abang of an Abuja Federal High Court upheld Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff as the Acting National Chairman of the party, while on October 14 ordered Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Jimoh Ibrahim, who emerged from Sheriff-led faction as the authentic PDP governorship candidate in the November 26 governorship election.
Dissatisfied with the judgments, Beluolisa Nwofor, counsel to the respondents, Poroye and others had lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court.
Jegede, through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) had sought to appeal Abang’s judgment, insisting that Jegede was the rightful PDP governorship candidate in the gubernatorial election.
Before Friday’s ruling by the appeal court, Olanipekun said on Thursday that Jegede emerged as candidate of the party to contest the Ondo governorship election from well conducted primary recognised by the National Working Committee of the Party.
“The National Executive Committee of the party as well as the National leadership headed by Caretaker Committee supervised the primary in Akure.
“Who should be the authentic candidate of the party, Ibrahim Jimoh that was a product of a gathering in Ibadan?’’
“The selection of candidates for elections is solely the right of the political parties and not to be done by the court.
“The court also lacks the jurisdiction to appoint leaders for political parties,” he said
Olanipekun urged the court to set aside the decision of the lower court and uphold his client, Jegede as the candidate of the party for the Ondo election.
Also in the case of Senators Makarfi and Ben Obi seeking court’s leave to appeal the lower court judgment, Olanipekun, urged the court to uphold the appeal and reverse the decisions taken by Justice Abang because they were in a error.
He said the lower court decision was not a consensus judgment as claimed by the trial Judge because the PDP was not represented in the matter.
He also alleged the judgment was a fraud adding that the counsel who signed the originating summon later turned out to be the respondent counsel.
However, Nwofor had argured in all the cases that the court has no jurisdiction to hear any of the appeals.
He urged the court to hold that the it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeals “because the respondents had appealed against the ruling of November 10” and an appeal had been entered .
He also submitted that a motion for stay of proceedings has been filed at the Supreme Court.
Nwofor said: “The first reaction is to tell the court that this Honourable court has lost jurisdiction by virtue of appeal entered in the Supreme Court. We draw your attention to a our motion filed on 15 November. .And also there is tendency to stay execution.
“The two facts are undisputed in this case. We therefore submit that the proper thing to do is to stop any further proceedings in this appeal until the Supreme Court says otherwise.
Meanwhile, Justice Salauwa in adjourning “sine die” (indefinitely), Friday, said it was to await the decision of the Supreme Court on interlocutory appeals filed by the respondents.
According to him, “We have seriously taken into account circumstances surrounding the arguments in the cases. The panel was put in place on a rescue mission.
“We have come this far, and having had the circumstances of political motivated barrel of cases arising from Ondo PDP, we have to say enough is enough.
“That is to await the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment especially when a new CJN has just been appointed.
“If we go ahead it would amount to usurping the duty of the Supreme Court
“In our view we have to wait the decision of the Supreme Court.
“We will await the decision of the Supreme Court in all the processes; no matter what they are worth.
“We hereby rule that this matter and other matters awaiting decision by this court are hereby adjourned sine-die pending the decision of the apex court,” Salauwa summed.
With this Jimoh Ibrahim stands as the PDP candidate in the November 26 governorship election in Ondo.

Author: News Editor

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