Leadership Crisis: PDP Withdraws Petition against Appeal Court Justices

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• Expresses regret

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has withdrawn the petition it wrote against some Justices of the Court of Appeal alleging bias in the handling of the appeals which resulted  in the reinstatement of Eyitayo Jegede as its candidate in the last governorship election in Ondo State.

The party, in a letter dated January 31, 2017 addressed to the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, expressed regret for writing the petition.

A copy of the letter was obtained by THISDAY.
The PDP had in the petition dated November 17, 2016 accused the Justice Ibrahim Saulawa-led panel of competing bribes, an allegation the justices vehemently denied.

The party urged the Acting CJN to among others, direct the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to order the panel to stop hearing the appeal marked: CA/A/551/2016 relating to the Ondo dispute.

Apart from denying the allegation, the justices, to further prove their innocence, recused themselves from further hearing of the appeal.

The January 31, 2016 letter was signed by Prof Wale Oladipo and Bashir Maidugu (as PDP’s National Secretary and National Legal Adviser).

Excerpts from the letter read:
“With utmost humility and great respect to your lordship, we write in respect of our earlier petition dated November 17, 2016 in which we urged your lordship to direct the e President of the Court of Appeal to instruct the Justice Ibrahim Saulawa-led panel of justices to stop all further proceedings in respect of appeal No: CA/A/551/2016 wherein judgment had been delivered.

“Upon a more sober reflection, we humbly apply to withdraw the said petition against the Justices and regret any inconvenience same may have occasioned on all affected parties.”

Justice Saulawa referred to the letter of withdrawal at the proceedings of his panel yesterday.
He said it was the right thing to do and commended lawyer to the petitioners, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), for advising his clients appropriately.

Olujinmi, who is lawyer to Biyi Poroye and some other state officials of the PDP in the South-west, loyal to the Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of party, acknowledged the fact that his clients wrote  the letter.

Meanwhile, it was learnt  yesterday that the Port-Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal has fixed February 17 for judgment in the appeal by the Sheriff faction against the judgment of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, recognising the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee as the true leadership organ of the party.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja had in a judgment, ordered the substitution of Jegede with Jimoh Ibrahim by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, his judgment was set aside by the Court of Appeal reversed.