Jegede raises the alarm over destruction of campaign materials
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and James Sowole in Akure
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal yesterday granted the application by Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) challenging the judgment of the Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove his name and replace it with that of Jimoh Ibrahim.
Jegede emerged as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Ondo State governorship election from the faction of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi, while Jimoh Ibrahim emerged from the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction.
The Makarfi faction was the first to submit the name of its candidate to the INEC.
After the submission, the Sheriff faction approached the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to challenge the submission of Jegede’s name.
In his ruling, Justice Abang ordered INEC to remove Jegede’s name and replace it with that of Ibrahim.
Though not a party at the lower court, Jegede had, through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, approached the Appeal Court for leave to appeal as interested party.
But Biyi Poroye, who is the Chairman of the PDP in the state for the Sheriff faction opposed the application. His lawyer, Beluolisa Nwofor (SAN), asked the court not to grant the application.
Ruling on the application, a full panel of the court in a unanimous decision upheld the submission of Olanipekun and granted the application as prayed.
Reading the lead judgment, Justice Ibrahim Salauwa held that Jegede had been able to prove to the court that he was affected by the judgment of the lower court.
The court also held that the notice of appeal filed by the applicant should be deemed as properly filed and that the applicant should file and serve all his processes on the respondents within 24 hours.
The court then gave the respondents three days for file their reply.
Earlier, the court had dismissed an application filed by the Sheriff faction asking that the panel set up by the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to hear all the appeals relating to the governorship disputes in the state be disbanded.
The court held that no litigant had the power to challenge the administrative power of the court’s president to set up a panel to hear a matter and as such, she did not need to consult the litigants before setting up a fresh panel.
The court then dismissed the application for lacking in merit.
The Sheriff faction had written a petition alleging that the first panel led by Justice Hannatu Sankey collected bribes of N350 million from the state Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
The justices denied the allegation but chose to disqualify themselves from further participation in the appeals. After the panel recused itself, the case file was returned to the PCA, who in turn set up a fresh panel to hear the matter.
The Eyitayo Jegede Campaign Organisation yesterday condemned in strong term the destruction of the campaign posters and billboards of Jegede, the replaced PDP candidate for the election.
The complaints of the organisation was contained in a statement issued by the Head of Media of Jegede Campaign Organisation, Mr Kayode Fasua.
Fasua said it was disturbing that supporters and hoodlums loyal to All Progressives Congress APC candidate leveraged on the visit of party chieftains to destroy Jegede’s campaign materials, describing the event as saddening.
He said it was disappointing that the destruction came at the time when the United States of America just concluded presidential election in which everything was done decently.
Fasua said the APC had since the wee hours of yesterday directed the destructive tendencies to everything that represented the PDP and Jegede.
“Starting from the wee hours of the day up till this morning, APC thugs, under the supervision of the party chieftains, had hit the streets in Akure, the state capital, pulling down the billboards of Jegede and tearing his posters, in a desperate attempt to hoodwink President Muhammadu Buhari into believing that the party is popular in Ondo State.
“The vandalism reached a crescendo at about 7a.m. today (yesterday )when the APC thugs mounted the pedestrian bridge at Oja-Oba, in Akure, and pulled down the banners of Jegede and his running mate, Mr. John Ola Mafo.
“While it is true that Jegede is at the Court of Appeal, trying to reclaim his mandate from Ibrahim, one wonders the law relied upon by the APC chieftains and their thugs to pull down his billboards and banners and also tear his posters, simply because Buhari was being expected,” he said.
Fasua said Jegede was at the Appeal Court because he does not want to concede the substitution of his name as the PDP governorship candidate to Ibrahim.
“While the security agents are aware of this fact and know that Jegede’s posters and other insignias of electioneering are still permitted pending the final discharge of all suits relating to the contest, one wonders when the APC chieftains and thugs became law enforcement agents to destroy Jegede’s emblems,” he said.
Fasua said the APC has by this act told the people of Ondo State to expect a riotous and oppressive leadership that is intolerable of any form of opposition, once it is voted into power.
Reacting to the allegation, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the Ondo State Command, Mr. Femi Joseph, said the command had not received report of vandalism of campaign materials.