The battle of the soul of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State has shifted to the Appeal Court in Abuja.
This is ahead of the governorship election coming up in the state on November 26 this year.
There are several cases pending in the appellate court as who controls the Ondo PDP structures: Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee or National Chairman (?) of the party, Alhaji Modu Sheriff-led faction.
The first case that came up Friday was the one instituted by Senators Ahmed Makarfi and his secretary, Ben Obi.
Their application before the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, sought leave to be joined in the appeal against judgments delivered by an Abuja High Court, which nullified the Makarfi led Caretaker Committee of the Party
Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court, Abuja, had in October 14 judgement declared the governorship candidate from the rival faction led by former Borno State Governor, Sheriff, as the authentic PDP candidate for the November 26 election.
The decision followed his June 29 judgement in which he declared the faction led by Sheriff as the authentic group of members of the PDP.
Also last Thursday the same court dismissed Jegede plea to set aside the two judgments and be allowed to be joined in the appeal against the judgments.
The court said on Thursday that Jegede lacked the locus standi to appeal the decisions of the court.
He said section 31 of the Electoral Act only allows the party and not the candidate to contest the judgement.
“The only case where the applicant would have been considered as having a locus standi to contest the October 14 judgement is if he had taken part in the August 29 primaries conducted by Sheriff’s faction,” said Abang.
He said the record placed before his court did not show that Mr. Jegede was a sponsored candidate of the PDP in Ondo State.
Abang also said the notion of Jegede that the court denied him fair hearing when it gave its decision on October 14 after his (Jegede’s) name had been submitted to INEC as PDP flagbearer was wrong.
He said there was no record before his court, ahead of the October 14 ruling, which stated that Jegede’s name had been submitted to INEC.
He said the document now before the court shows that Jegede’s name was submitted to INEC as early as on October 5 and wondered why INEC failed to make mention of the submitted name in his court.
However, in proceedings that last from 9am to 6pm on Friday, the Appeal Court panel made up of three Justices and headed by Justice Hannatu Sankey deferred judgment till later date. That is whether Makarfi and Obi have sufficient ground to be joined as interested party to appeal judgment.
Other members of the panel include Justices E. Agim and O. E. Willian-Dawudu
Counsel to the applicants, Dayo Akinlaja had earlier sought to consolidate two motions already filed before the appellate court.
But counsel to Biyi Poroye, factional Chairman of Ondo PDP and eight others, Alex Izinyon countered the move on the ground he had already filed a counter motion, saying each of the motions should treated on their merit.
The court sustained the objection.
When the applicant counsel sought leave to be joined, to be granted an extension of time to file the application and seek leave to file notice of Appeal agaibst the judgments, Izinyon also raised preliminary objection.
According to Izinyon, the fundamental, the premator of their case was missing, that is leave to be joined as ‘interested party’
He said the applicants were not party in the court below and cannot come directly to seek leave for the trinity prayers sought above without first bringing an application seeking to be joined as interested party.
“Before they apply for the three prayers the first prayer is for them to seek leave to be joined as interested party. This is captured under section 243 (1) of 1979 constitution. It says a person who have no interest in a matter, cannot seek to be joined more especially as three months have already elapsed, out of time to file application . They were not party in the first place. And did not say they are interested party as stipulated by the provision of the Constitution
Counsel to PDP (Modu Sheriff-led faction), Olagoke Fakunle aligned himself with the submission of Izinyon.
He also asked the court to discontance the application
He noted that the first point of the application of party to be joined is for that party to seek leave to show evidence for the claims or reliefs sought, that a judgment had affected him in a way and that if the reliefs are not granted will deny him fear hearing.
Akinlaja countered the objections, describing them as incompetent. He said the authorities cited are irrelevant to the case at hand
He said once the time had elapsed what was needed was the trinity prayers. He said what was needed was to comply with the trinity prayers. “We have embedded all the four prayers in our three prayers. Once we apply for extension of time to file appeal is tantamount to seeking leave to be be joined as interested party, he said
Ruling was reserved.
Meanwhile, there was a clash of both factions when in another case filed by Makarfi led faction against the faction Chairman, Prince Poroye and eight others, with Independent National Electoral Commission as a respondent, came up for hearing.
Fakunle raised objection as ‘applicant objector’
When counsel to Makarfi-led PDP, Nelson Emuaro was called to move the motion, Fakunle countered that he has a letter from the National Chairman of the party, Sheriff stating he did not authorised anybody to file any application.
After short instalment, the court asked the applicant to go ahead and move his motion, while the court will take a stand on who represents the PDP between the two counsels.
Another application asking for interlocutory injection and restraining INEC from substituting Eyitayo Jegede’s name for Jimoh’s, of Sheriff led faction in the Ondo governorship election of November 26 was withdrawn by Akinlaja, citing that it has been overtaken by event as INEC had already removed Jegede’s name.
Another application for Eyitayo Jegede to be joined to appeal the lower court judgments as interested party was adjourned till November 1 for counsels to address the court.