Appeal Court Reserves Judgment in Ondo PDP Crisis

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

Despite protest from the Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Court of Appeal hearing all appeals emanating from the Ondo State PDP disputes over governorship candidate of the party, yesterday heard the appeal of Mr. Eyitayo Jegede and reserved judgment.

The court rejected the arguments of the Sheriff’s faction not to go ahead with the hearing of the appeals.

The faction urged the court not to embark on ‘judicial rascality’ in view of its appeals pending before the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, counsel to Prince Biyi Poroye and others, Beluolisa E. Nwofor (SAN), while reacting to the development, said the implication of the decision of the panel was that his client had been shut out.

According to him, he has not made any contribution to Jegede’s appeal based on the fact that the same court had earlier stayed proceedings in the case of Senator Ahmed Makarfi against Benson Akingboye and also in the case of PDP v Benson Akingboye.

Nwofor had prayed the court not to go on with the proceedings because of the pending appeals at the Supreme Court challenging the verdict of the panel that granted leave to Jegede to appeal against the nomination of Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate for the November 26 election in Ondo State.

Nwofor also informed the court that the Supreme Court had sent a letter of transmission of the appeal to the registrar of the Court of Appeal and further pleaded with the court to allow him tender a copy of the letter but the panel refused.

He also informed the court that he had filed a stay of execution on the matter pending the determination of the appeals at the Supreme Court.

However, counsel to Jegede, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who opposed the application, submitted that the court had no power to remove an appeal from the cause list or hands off as asked by the applicant.

Olanipekun subsequently adopted his motion seeking to set aside the ruling of the lower court and prayed the court to allow the initial arrangement that recognised his client Jegede as the candidate of the party.

Nwofor had opposed him saying that the appeal that granted Jegede leave to appeal was being challenged at the Supreme Court.

He said the appeal was not ripe for hearing because the time for the respondents to file their briefs would expire 12 midnight thursday.

He said: “The limitations of time to file does not include Saturday and Sunday under the Interpretation Act of of 2004.

According to him, another reason why the appeal is not ripe for hearing was because by Order 8 Rule 11 of the Supreme Court Rules 1985 as amended, the matter is now before the apex court.

He said: “There is no appeal to hear since the court has lost its jurisdiction. There is an undisputed fact that a motion on notice for stay of all further proceedings and further hearing of these appeal is pending at the apex court and has been brought to the notice of this court.

“We maintain that by the effect of this notice, the court cannot entertain the appeal pending the determination of all the appeals before the Supreme Court.”

He added that to proceed to hear the appeal would amount to an exercise in futility and would also amount to judicial rascality and judicial impediment.

There were altercation between the bar and the bench as Nwofor announced to the court that proceedings could not go on in view of a pending appeal he filed at the Supreme Court.

This development was objected to by both counsel to Jegede, Olanipekun and the three member panel presided over by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa.

It was at this point that the peace of the court was let loose giving way to free flow of abusive language across the bar to the bench as well as from the bench to the bar.

Nwofor accused the panel of an attempt to deviate from its earlier decision in the matter and some other matters that would naturally lead to stay of proceedings or adjournment.

The panel at this point responded saying, Nwofor is an audacious counsel that had no respect for the bar.

In similar vain, Nwofor replied and asked the panel whether the justices required a timid lawyer who cannot stand and defend the law.

Other lawyers intervened and appealed for calm.