• Injustice against Jegede won’t stand, says Mimiko
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja and Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
A new Court of Appeal panel will, today, hear all appeals emanating from the Ondo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP are at loggerheads over who controls party structures and the genuine governorship candidate for Ondo governorship election.
At its first sitting last Friday, the panel was confronted with legal theatrics and intrigues, which forced it to adjourn proceedings to today. Before the adjournment, however, the panel identified processes emanating from the multiple appeals.
The Justice Ibrahim Salauwa-led three member panel took from Justice Jummai Sankey’s panel which disqualified itself over bribery allegations. Other members of the new panel set up by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa are Justices Ignatius Igwe Aguba and George Mbaba.
Resuming sitting today, one of the threshold issues to be resolved is a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court filed by members of state executive of the PDP in six South West states (loyal to Modu-Sheriff), led by Biyi Poroye (factional chairman of the Ondo PDP).
It is asking the Court of Appeal to reverse Bulkachuwa’s decision to constitute a fresh panel to hear appeals relating to the dispute.
The motion filed by Godswill Mrakpo, also asked the court to disband the panel comprising of Justices Ibrahim Salauwa, Ignatius Igwe Aguba, and George Mbaba, allegedly set up in breach of the applicant’s right to fair hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the constitution.
But, Governor Olusegun Mimiko declared, yesterday, that the a substitution of Mr Eyitayo Jegede’s name with that of Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP candidate will not stand. Mimiko told newsmen at the Government House in Akure, on Sunday that “what happened with the substitution was a contrived conspiracy because the decision of INEC can not find comfort in Justice, in principle, in law, and inmorality.”
He, however said Jegede, his faction of the PDP is seeking redress. by the candidate, the PDP and major stakeholders, assuring that justice will be done “because the impunity will not stand.”
Mimiko observed that the contraption remains a bizarre development in the nation’s politics and particularly in the body polity of Ondo State, noting that it is something bizarre, abnormal and without precedent in polity.
Poroye and others equally prayed the court to order the return of the case files relating to the appeals and the application for leave to appeal as an interested party (against the decision of the Federal High Court of October 14 in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/395/2016) – filed by Eyitayo Jegede (Ondo factional PDP candidate) “to the registry of the Court of Appeal to take its normal course and turn in the docket of the court.”
The affected appeals are: CA/A/551/2016 filed by Ahmed Makarfi and Ben Obi against Biyi Poroye and 10 others and CA/A/551A/2016 filed by Clement Faboyede and another against 10 others; CA/A551B/2016 filed by the PDP against Biyi Poroye and nine others and CA/A/551C/2016 filed by Eyitayo Jegede against Prince Biyi Poroye and 10 others.
They argued that not only did the president of the Court of Appeal act without hearing from them, the case, being a pre-election matter did not warrant any urgency to require the constitution of a special panel.
They added that those who filed the appeals against the June 29 and October 14, 2016 decisions of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja were not parties in the cases leading to the decisions.
The applicants also argued that no orders were made against any of them (those behind the new appeals) and that they (the applicants), who were plaintiffs in the suits, were not informed when the president of the Court of Appeal acted solely on the request by the appellants to constitute the panel on the grounds of urgency.
They have also filed a motion before the Supreme Court seeking a stay of all proceedings before the Court of Appeal in relation to the appeals pending the determination of the two appeals filed on October 31, which have been entered and given number: SC/914/2016 and SC/915/2016.
The motion filed by two members of the party, Benson Akingboye and Ehiozuwa Agbonayiwa particularly seeks stay of “all further proceedings and further hearing in CA/ABJ/402A/2016 filed on behalf of the PDP by a lawyer engaged by the Makarfi-led faction of the party’s leadership.
They hinged the motion on among others, that it was wrong to allow the Court of Appeal to proceed with the appeals when they have valid appeals before the Supreme Court, which challenged the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal.
Another contentious motion before the panel, is the one by the Sheriff faction asking the court to strike out the appeal filed by the Makarfi-led faction of the party against the judgment of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Raphael Oluyode, another counsel representing the Sheriff faction, who drew the attention of the court at the last sitting submitted that the Makarfi faction has no authority to represent the party in court.
Oluyode argued that there was no appeal from the party against the judgment of Justice Abang and urged the court to invoke Order 11 rule 5 of its rules to strike out the appeal.
His submissions did not go down well with Makarfi faction’s counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN), who insisted that he has the authority to appeal against the judgment of the trial court.
Besides the two motions, there are other pending multiple applications for and against the hearing of the appeals.
For instance, Jegede has filed an application through his counsel, Wole Olanikpekun (SAN) seeking leave of court to appeal the judgment of Justice Abang of the Federal High Court.
Already, the Sheriff faction represented by B. E. I. Ngwufor has already indicated its intention to file a counter affidavit in opposition to Jegede’s application.