….Adebutu is now Ogun PDP guber candidate – PDP lawyer
Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Court of Appeal, Ibadan, on Tuesday, set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abeokuta, which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept the list of candidates at all levels for the 2019 polls from a faction of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the leadership of Mr. Adedayo Dayo.
In a unanimous judgment by Jutices Haruna Tsamani, Jimi Bada and Nonyerem Okoronkwo, the appellate court held that the Appellants, who are the PDP, National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, and National Secretary of the party, were not served with the processes of the suit before hearing began at the lower court, which rendered the judgment of the lower court a nullity.
Justice Abubakar Shittu of the Federal High Court, Abeokuta had, on October 2, 2018, in a suit by Dayo-led faction of PDP loyal to the Ogun East Senator, Kashamu, granted four of the reliefs sought by the factional group, which led to the submission of Kashamu’s name to the electoral umpire as the PDP governorship candidate for the 2019 polls in Ogun State.
The other faction of PDP, recognised by the National Working Committee (NWC) had also submitted another list of candidates at all levels to INEC, and listed a member of House of Representatives, Oladipupo Adebutu, as the governorship candidate of the party for the 2019 elections.
The lead counsel for PDP, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), had argued at the hearing of the appeal on Monday that there was no service of processes originating from the decision of the lower court on the appellants, adding that his clients were not consequently given a fair hearing. He argued that the matter was not a pre-election issue.
But Respondents’ counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), also said that service was effected and that an affidavit of service of the processes sworn to by the bailiff was filed in the court to prove the service. He argued that the matter was a pre-election one.
Reading the unanimous judgment, Justice Tsamani noted that the two issues brought before the court by the appellants were for the court to determine whether the matter was a pre-election issue and whether they were properly served.
The appellate court, however, held that the matter was not a pre-election matter and that the appellants were not properly served processes at the lower court before commencement of trial.
The court then made an order that the case should be remitted to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to another judge, beside Justice Shittu Abubakar, where the substantive issue regarding who is the proper executive council of PDP in Ogun State, will be decided on merit.
But the PDP counsel stated that with the judgment delivered yesterday, Kashamu “ceases to be the PDP governorship candidate. From the decision of the court today, all the orders that were made by the trial court in respect of list of candidates sent to INEC has been set aside and that decision no longer exist. Today, the decision of this court stands on every other decision of the courts before now.”
One of the counsel to Dayo-led executive, Mrs. Ifeoma Esom, told journalists that her clients felt “dissatisfied with the judgment and my clients have directed that we proceed immediately to the Supreme Court.”
Fielding questions on the implications of the judgment of the Appeal Court on Kashamu’s candidature, Esom stated: “Senator Buruji Kashamu remains the PDP governorship candidate. This judgment does not affect the candidature of Senator Buruji Kashamu as the Ogun State PDP candidate. His candidature is predicated on the judgment of Honourable Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court; that judgment is still pending, and it’s still subsisting and there is no appeal whatsoever against that judgment.
“So, what just happened today is that the Court of Appeal set aside an interlocutory ruling of the Abeokuta Division of the Federal High Court. The substantive suit is still pending before that court.
“As I said before, the ruling has no effect whatsoever on the candidature of Senator Buruji Kashamu. The decision made by Honourable Justice M. Shittu Abubakar on October 2, 2018, is different and distinct from the decision of Honourable Justice Ibrahim Buba that already decided who should submit the list of PDP candidates in Ogun State. So, this ruling has no effect whatsoever on that decision.”