Ondo Guber: Jimoh Ibrahim remains PDP candidate
The Justice Ibrahim Salauwa-led panel constituted to hear all appeals from the Ondo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, indefinitely adjourned judgment in the appeal filed by Eyitayo Jegede challenging the verdict of the panel, granting leave to Jegede to appeal against the nomination of Jimoh Ibrahim as the substantive candidate for the November 26 election in Ondo State.
The three-member panel was forced to adjourn the proceedings following an appeal filed by the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff faction of the PDP before the Supreme Court challenging, among others, the jurisdiction of the panel.
In the motion filed by the Sheriff faction of the party in Ondo State through its counsel Rapheal Oluyede, the three-member panel of the Appeal Court was joined as 5th to 7th respondents. The applicants in the motion led by Prince Biyi Poroye, accused the panel of bias and prayed the apex court to restrain the Justices from further proceedings in the appeals.
The motion served on the panel at about 7:30pm on Thursday night alleged that the three Justices had betrayed their office with the way the appeals have been handled and that they have refused to be bound by their earlier orders. In the motion, they also accused the appellate court panel of showing disrespect to the Supreme Court by violating the doctrine of lis pendis. The apex court had, however, fixed November 22 to hear the appeal.
At the resumed proceedings yesterday, the three-man panel noted that the panel was served with a motion at about 7:30pm on Thursday, alleging that the panel was in disobedience of the rule of lis pendis and stare decisis by going ahead to hear the appeal despite a pending motion at the Supreme Court.
The panel further held that the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa and the three members of the panel, namely, Justice Ibrahim Salauwa, Justice Igwe Agube and Justice Godwin Mbaba were joined as respondents in the motion.
According to the panel: “We recall that our panel was put in place on a rescue mission when Justice Sankey-led panel threw in the towel following the allegation of bias and bribery. We have come this far; we want to do what is most reasonable.
“With the situation of things now and going by the motion served on us, we have to await the decision of the Supreme Court on whether we are properly constituted or not. The motion is most unfortunate but we have to do this. We have been guided, let the Supreme Court decide whether we have jurisdiction or not.
“This appeal and all others stand adjourned sine die to await the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court,” the panel held.
In the motion filed before the Supreme Court, the Sheriff faction is praying for an order invoking disciplinary jurisdiction of the court to set aside the proceedings of November 16, 2016 of the special panel sitting in the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal. The appellant also prayed for an order restraining and forbidding further proceedings in the lower court by the panel of the Court of Appeal pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice and notice for stay of proceedings pending at the Supreme Court on ground that such further proceedings would be in flagrant and blatant breach of the doctrine of lis pendis, stare decisis and violation of the required regard for the Supreme Court.
The appellants also prayed for an order disqualifying the panel from further sitting, conducting the proceedings in this manner at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on the ground that they have betrayed their oath of office in their deliberate refusal to be bound by the principle of judicial precedent and stare decisis and refusal to be bound by their own rulings.
It would be recalled that the tussle that led to the party producing two candidates for the November 26 governorship election in Ondo state began as a result of two conflicting judgments that emanated from two courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
While Eyitayo Jegede emerged from the Makarfi group, Jimoh Ibrahim emerged from the Sheriff group. The Makarfi group had first submitted the name of Jegede to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate of the PDP. The Sheriff-led group had, however, approached the Federal High Court to seek for an enforcement of the removal of Jegede’s name and substituting it with that of Ibrahim.
Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, had on October 14, decided the matter in favour of the Sheriff
group, wherein he gave an order substituting Jegede’s name with that of Ibrahim. Not satisfied, Jegede had through his counsel approached the Court of Appeal to seek leave to appeal the judgment. The panel granted Jegede leave to appeal and he consequently moved his application, though the Sheriff faction had opposed the application on the ground that they have filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, hence asking the panel to disqualify itself. The panel had despite that heard the appeal and fixed judgment for yesterday.