7 Days to Election, Jegede's Fate Hangs in the Balance

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  • A’Court Fails to Deliver Judgement
  • Asks followers to remain calm
  • PDP urges S’Court to ensure Justice
 
By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja, James Sowole in Akure and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
 
With election just seven days away, the fate of Eyitayo Jegede, the preferred candidate of the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party for Ondo governorship poll now hangs in the balance as the Court of Appeal yesterday postponed indefinitely the judgment that he hopes will compel the Independent National Electoral Commission to put his name as the party’s candidate.
 
Jegede is challenging the court order that forced INEC to replace him, with Jimoh Ibrahim of Ali Modu Sheriff faction as the governorship candidate for the November 26 election.
The court also adjourned all other pending appeals, including one filed by Makarfi, relating to the dispute over the governorship ticket of the PDP in November 26 election.
The panel said it took the decision to adjourn “sine die” (indefinitely) to await the decision of the Supreme Court on interlocutory appeals filed by the respondents.
The Court of Appeal yesterday‎ also cited the motion filed by the respondents before the Supreme Court on Thursday, asking for an order of the apex court to disband the panel and take disciplinary action against it for going ahead to hear the appeal after the Supreme Court had entered the appeals.
The nine respondents led by Mr. Biyi Poroye, who filed the motion before the Supreme Court are state officials of the Sheriff-led faction of the PDP in the South-West zone.
The appeals by Makarfi and Jegede are challenging the orders made by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on June 29 and October 14, 2016, which INEC acted on by dropping Jegede and replacing him with Ibrahim as the party’s standard bearer in the forthcoming election in the state.
But dissatisfied with the hearing of the appeals by the Court of Appeal despite their pending -interlocutory appeals before the Supreme Court, Poroye and others had filed the motion before the apex court.
The three-member panel of the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa was forced to adjourn the proceedings  following the appeals filed by the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction before the Supreme Court challenging the jurisdiction, among others of the Court of Appeal.
In the motion filed by the Sheriff faction of the party in Ondo State through its counsel Raphael Oluyede, the three member panel of the appeal court was joined as 5th to 7th respondents.
They accused the panel of bias and prayed the apex court to restrain the Justices from further proceedings in the appeals. 
 
The motion served on the panel at about 7:30pm on Thursday night alleged that the three Justices had betrayed their office with the way the appeals was handled and that they have refused to be bound by their earlier orders. 
 
The motion also accused the appeal court panel of showing disrespect to the Supreme Court by violating the doctrine of “lis pendis”.
 
The apex court had however fixed November 22 to hear the appeal.
 
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal noted that the panel was served with a motion at about 7:30pm on Thursday alleging that the panel was in disobedience of the rule of lis pendis and stare decisis by going ahead to hear the appeal despite a pending motion at the Supreme Court.
The panel further said that the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa and the three members of the panel, namely, Justice Ibrahim Salauwa, Justice Igwe Agube and Justice Godwin Mbaba were joined as respondents in the motion.
According to the panel, “We recall that our panel was put in place on a rescue mission when Justice Sankey-led panel threw in the towel following the allegation of bias and bribery. We have come this far, we want to do what is most reasonable. 
 
“With the situation of things now and going by the motion served on us, we have to await the decision of the Supreme Court on whether we are properly constituted or not. 
 
“The motion is most unfortunate but we have to do this. We have been guided, let the Supreme Court decide whether we have jurisdiction or not.
“This appeal and all others stand adjourned sine dine to await the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court.”
 
In the motion filed before the Supreme Court, Sheriff faction is praying for an order invoking disciplinary jurisdiction of the court to set aside the proceedings of November 16, 2016 in of the special panel sitting in Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.
 
The appellant also prays for an order restraining and forbidding further proceedings in the lower court by the panel of the Court of Appeal pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice and notice for stay of proceedings pending at the Supreme Court on ground that such further proceedings would be in flagrant and blatant breach of the doctrine of lis pendis, stare decisis and violation of the required regard for the Supreme Court.
 
 
The Makarfi group had first submitted the name of Jegede to INEC as the candidate of the PDP.
Sheriff group had however approached the Federal High Court to seek for an enforcement of removing the name of Jegede and substituting it with that of Ibrahim.
 
Jegede calls for Calm
Meanwhile, Jegede yesterday called for calm among his supporters following the decision of the Appeal Court to adjourn its judgment scheduled for yesterday.
Jegede in a statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of his Campaign Organization, Kayode Fasua said he was not unmindful of the fact that the temporary setback is the handiwork of some anti-democratic elements hell bent on truncating his mandate for the November 26 2016 polls.
He however said as a true believer in the rule of law and judiciary, he would be at the Supreme  Court next week Tuesday to thrash out issues raised by the appellants.
He said the objective of the appellants was to stop a review of the Abang’s contrived judgment through various baseless petitions, spurious blackmail and media propaganda, adding that the day of reckoning is near for these anti-democratic elements.
Jegede appealed to his supporters and believers in his course that despite the hurt they feel, they should not take laws into their hands but remain resolute and intensify their door-to-door campaigns, restating that he will contest and win the upcoming poll.
“I call on our supporters to remain calm, and not be weighed down by the latest developments which I believe should only strengthen our resolve in ensuring that despite all contrivances and manipulations, we will contest and win the November 26 2016 governorship election.” 
He said his team of lawyers were working assiduously to ensure that this grave injustice again, to subvert his mandate, through several devious means of propaganda, blackmail and unprecedented assault against the judiciary is corrected using available legal means.
 “For us, there is no looking back. We remain resolute and focused in our desire to bring development, progress and prosperity to our people, this is our Article of Faith and with God, we will triumph.”
 
PDP Urges Supreme Court to Ensure Justice
Also yesterday, the PDP cried out to the apex court to intervene and ensure that the people of Ondo State were not shortchanged in the ongoing governorship tussle.
The party accused the APC and some elements at the corridors of power of habouring a grand plan to stop it from contesting the election by the foisting of needless crisis on the party.
In a statement issued by the Director of Publicity, Ondo State chapter of the PDP, Ayo Fadaka, the party commended  the Court of Appeal for its  commitment to the administration of justice in this matter by giving expeditious hearing to the case seeking to decide on the rightful candidate for the Ondo election.
He urged the Supreme Court to rise to the occasion by expeditiously hearing the matter as election is around the corner.