The Court of Appeal, Abuja on Wednesday reserved judgment “till when it is ready’’ in an appeal filed by Eyitayo Jegede seeking to be re-listed as candidate of PDP in Nov.26 governorship election in Ondo State. Justice Ibrahim Salauwa led two other Justices of the panel to reserve the judgment after arguments were adopted by counsel to parties. “Now that counsel to parties have concluded arguments on this appeal, the judgment is reserved. Parties would be informed when we are ready”, the judge said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that Jegede had challenged the ruling by Justice Okon Abang ordering INEC to recognise Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP candidate for the election. NAN further recalls that the appellate court on Nov.10 granted Jegede leave to appeal the decision of the Federal High Court Abuja. Earlier, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to Jegede prayed the court to set aside the ruling of the lower court, adding that it was given in bad light. Olanipekun also said the court should order the reinstatement of his client as the authentic candidate of the party to contest the election.
According to him, Jegede is the candidate that emerged from the party’s primary conducted in Akure. He argued further that Ibrahim’s name was submitted and immediately recognised by INEC following the ruling of the lower court. However, Mr Beloulisa Nwafor (SAN), counsel to Biyi Poroye, Chairman of the Ondo State Chapter of PDP and eight others, told the court that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal. He had announced to the court that the Nov.10 ruling that gave leave of the court to Jegede to appeal the nomination of Ibrahim was appealed against at the Supreme Court.
“Your Lordship, with profound respect, I am here to inform the panel that we had challenged the ruling of this court that granted leave to the applicant to leave the decision of the lower court. The Supreme Court has acknowledged the pendency of the appeal and stay application. The Supreme Court being a superior court has from this moment usurped the jurisdiction of this court’’, he said. Nwafor further argued that the panel ought to hands-off all the proceedings pending the determination of the appeal. He submitted that the panel should refrain from further action on the matter, adding that doing the contrary would amount to the violation of the constitution, the rules of the court as well as the oath of judicial office.
He said the court had earlier demonstrated courage to hands-off on two sister appeals upon notification of pending appeals at the apex court. He also said that appeal was not ripe for hearing, adding that time allowed for filing of respondent’s brief would expire Wednesday 12 midnight. He argued that the limitation to file processes excluded Saturday and Sunday as enshrined in Section 15 of the Interpretation Act, 2004. Mr Godswill Mrakpo, counsel to Ali Modu Sheriff said the appeal was ripe for hearing, adding that his team was not served notice of hearing.
“I had come to the court for another business only to be told that the matter was listed for hearing today. This is totally against the right of clients and counsel who are supposed to be notified two days ahead of a matter. It is also important to state that some of the processes relating to this matter were served me in court this morning’’, he said. According to him, an adjournment remains the best option to allow for the filing of responses to the appellant’s reply. The presiding judge, however, insisted that the extant appeal earlier argued by counsel to the appellant sufficed.
NAN reports that Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, Sen. Ben Obi are all parties in the matter. The Executive of PDP South West Zone and Ondo State Executive members of the party were also listed as parties. The court is also mandated to decide the authentic leadership of the party. NAN reports that the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee had also filed an appeal challenging the decision of the lower court that recognised the party’s primary conducted by the Sheriff faction.