Judgment deferred in Modu-Sheriff’s appeal
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Supreme Court yesterday in Abuja gave a red card to moves by the Ali Modu-Sheriff’s faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The apex court struck out all the 14 multiple interlocutory motions brought against the ruling of the Court of Appeal allowing Mr. Eyitayo Jegede to appeal the October 14, 2016 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to replace his name with Jimoh Ibrahim’s as the Ondo State governorship candidate for tomorrow’s election.
This was the second time the apex court intervened in the matter. The first was on Tuesday this week when it directed the panel of the Court of Appeal to proceed and deliver its reserved judgment.
In a unanimous ruling delivered by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Supreme Court struck out all the 14 motions on the ground that they have been overtaken by event. He held that the interlocutory motions have become academic because the Court of Appeal had already delivered judgment in the matter that produced the motions.
The apex court directed the appellants to appeal against the final judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered on Wednesday by the Justice Ibrahim Saulawa-led three-member panel.
Specifically, Justice Onnoghen said it will be better and safer for the 14 motions to be embedded in their appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal if they have any.
The apex court said that there was no point hearing the motions in piece-meal when a final judgment had already been delivered by the appellate court.
The Court of Appeal had two weeks ago granted Jegede the permission to appeal against the ruling of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered on October 14. The judge ordered INEC to accept Ibrahim’s name as the PDP candidate having emerged from the Senator Ali Modu-Sherif faction of the party.
The Appeal Court had already granted similar permission to the Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee to challenge the Federal High Court order ruling that the faction has no legal right to nominate a candidate for the poll.
By the Supreme Court’s decision, the appellants in the motions can now appeal against the final judgment of the Appeal Court on the leadership tussle between the Modu-Sheriff and Makarfi factions.
Responding to the Supreme Court decision, Jegede’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said the ball is now in the court of the appellants to go and pick the Appeal Court judgment and file whatever challenges they have with the judgment.
Olanipekun commended the apex court for promptly taking care of Ondo guber matters.
Reacting, counsel to the Sheriff-led faction, Chief Beluolisa Nwufor (SAN), said his client will abide by the decision of the Supreme Court, because it is the highest court in the land.
He said the issues raised by the appellants were not heard, but we’re asked to go back and challenge the final decision of the Court of Appeal.
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Wednesday set aside the Federal High Court ruling, declaring Ibrahim as the authentic governorship candidate, saying it was a nullity.
In a unanimous judgment, the three-man special panel constituted to hear all parties emanating from the governorship tussle described Justice Abang’s verdict as a charade, fraudulent and inexperience.
Delivering the lead judgment, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Salauwa said the judgment of the lower court violated the doctrine of natural law of justice [audi altarem partem] by not hearing from Jegede.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has reserved judgment on the appeal filed by the sacked former Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Modu-Sheriff against the judgment of Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.
Justice Liman had validated the National Convention of the PDP in Port Harcourt which produced the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee while sacking Modu-Sheriff’s National Executive Committee.
At the sitting of the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, counsel to the Makarfi-led faction, Dejo Laminkanra (SAN) urged the court to uphold the validation of the PDP National Convention as granted by the Federal High Court.
Modu-Sheriff was represented by Mr Akintola Justice AAB Gumel, reserved the judgment saying the parties would be notified when the judgment is ready.