Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (Ali Modu Sheriff-led led faction), Godswill Mrakpor, Monday, escaped being jailed by the special panel of the Appeal Court set up to hear appeals arising from Ondo PDP primary election.
Mrakpor courted the wrath of the Justices of the panel led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa, when he raised his voice above that of the court.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, counsel to the applicant, Eyitayo Jegede (Sen. Ahmed Makarfi faction), had wanted to move his motion on why his client, Jegede should be granted leave to be joined as a interested party to appeal against a judgment of an Abuja High Court that urged the independent National Electoral Commission to substitute the name of Jegede with that of Ibrahim Jimoh, ahead governorship election in the state on Nov. 26.
But counsel to Prince Biyi Poroye, factional chairman of Ondo PDP (Sheriff faction), Benson Nwofor, objected, saying that his application on the jurisdiction and legality of the special panel should first be considered. And the panel had granted him the leave to move the application .
At this point Mrakpor asked the court to stand down the motion because he was still processing his counter affidavit at the registry.
But the court asked him to sit down and allow Nwofor to continue with his motion.
Mrakpor remained standing, insisting he must be heard.
He became agitated. He said he was only served on Friday and has not been able to file a reaction.
He said his client was been denied fair hearing if he was not given the opportunity to file a reaction to Poroye’s motion. “My position is that I can’t be shut out. My processes are in the registry and will be through in few minutes! “, he shouted.
However, he was to apologise for his action, when he was cautioned by the court.
He said it was his nature and was under pressure that perhaps triggered the kind of reaction.
Olanipekun, Nwofor, Ahmed Raji, though deplored Mrakpor’s behaviour, they however pleaded for forgiveness.
Justice Salauwa said the court would have jailed Mrakpor for his arrogance and misbehaviour to the court but for the pleas of other lawyers.
Meanwhile, Nwofor was later to move asking the court to set aside and disband the special panel on the ground that it was illegal and lacking in jurisdiction.”
According to Nwofor, he was seeking reliefs on 11 grounds to support the motion.
“I want to submit that the rules of the decision to set up the panel was made by the President of Court of Appeal at her administrative and not judicial capacity.
“I submit that the court has the right to set aside that decision. It is well settled in law that rules of natural justice as enshrined in Section 36 subsection 1 of our Constitution has not be followed.”
He said Eyitayo had made representation to the President of Appeal Court to constitute the Special panel.
“The fact remains that the first respondent did not deny that Eyitayo made representation to the President of the Court to constitute special panel. The President ought to have asked the other side for us to respond upon receiving the letter from Eyitayo. The implications is that the right of fair hearing is violated by not hearing from us.
“The consequence of fair hearing is breached here, the decision of the President of Court of Appeal should be be set aside. This is not based on merit- whether she was right or not.
“I urged court to please grant the application and return all casefiles to her ”
Olanipekun opposed the motion, urging the court to dismiss it “on the basis of the motion itself and on the ground of the motion itself”.
“I submit there is nothing to counter in the motion. Paragraph four of the motion is self revealing”
The court reserved ruling.
Meanwhile, proceedings is still ongoing