From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
ANXIETY yesterday enveloped Ondo State as the Supreme Court ordered the three-man special panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa to hear the various appeals on crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) over its governorship candidate.
The apex court justices led the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, issued the order after 10 applications asking for stay of the Court of Appeal’s proceedings were withdrawn by the applicant’s lawyer, Mr. Beluolisa Nwofor (SAN).
The decision now paves the way for the Appeal Court panel to deliver its judgments hitherto adjourned indefinitely in the appeals filed by Jegede and a factional leader of the PDP, Ahmed Makarfi, challenging the candidature of Jimoh Ibrahim of the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the party. The Justice Saulawa panel had heard and reserved its judgments on the appeals after hearing them between November 16 and 17. When judgment is eventually delivered by today, tomorrow or Friday, the PDP will know who, between Jegede and Ibrahim, is its candidate in the governorship election holding on Saturday, November 26, 2916.
The Court of Appeal had on November 18, suspended its proceedings with respect to all the pending appeals relating to the dispute over the party’s ticket on the grounds of the pending motions for stay of proceedings pending before the apex court.
This was after it ruled that it would stay proceedings pending when the Supreme Court would determine the motions for stay of proceedings and another setting aside the November 16 proceedings of the appeal pending before the apex court.
The motions for stay of proceedings were filed before the apex by nine respondents before the appeal court who were led by Mr. Biyi Poroye.
But at the hearing before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Poroye’s lawyer, Nwofor, withdrew all the 10 motions seeking stay of proceedings of the appeal court.
The lawyer withdrew the motions for stay of proceedings to pave the way for the hearing of his motion seeking the setting aside of the proceedings of the appeal court which were said to have been conducted on November 16 in defiance to pending appeals and applications before the Supreme Court.
The application to withdraw the 10 motions for stay was not opposed by other lawyers appearing for other parties to the suit. Reading the lead ruling of the apex court, Justice Onnoghen held that the motions for stay of proceedings having been withdrawn, the appeal court “is ordered to continue its proceedings forthwith”.
In another ruling, the Supreme Court awarded a whooping N9 million as cost in favour of the three Justices of the Court of Appeal panel after dismissing the motions seeking to disband them from hearing the PDP governorship crisis in Ondo State.
The money according to the apex court, is to be paid personally by counsel to the applicants, Beluolisa Nwofor (SAN).