Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Supreme Court will on May 25 hear the applications brought by the two factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) laying claim to the leadership of the party.
The Senator Ahmed Markafi faction of the party is challenging the validity of the Court of Appealâ€™s judgment which affirmed Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the authentic National Chairman of the PDP.
During yesterday proceedings which was presided over by Justice Musa Mohammed Dattijo, the PDP (appellant) as well as the 1st respondent (Sheriff) and Adewale Oladipo (2nd respondent) secured leave of the five-man panel to regularise their processes.
While Wole Olanipekun (SAN) appeared for the appellant, Akin Olujimi (SAN) appeared for Sheriff and Oladipo, Nelson Ani announced appearance for the 3rd respondent (INEC) just as Mohammed Ndayako represented the 4th respondent.
Also fixed for hearing that same day, is a motion dated March 21, filed by Lateef Fagbemi, challenging the competence of the appeal filed by the appellant.
Lateef had told the court that he filed the motion on behalf of the PDP (Sheriff-led national executive committee), insisting that he is the authentic National Chairman of the PDP, going by the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Port-Harcourt.
Fagbemi claimed that, â€œit was wrong for an appeal to be filed at the Supreme Court without consulting the Chairman of the party.
â€œThe person I am representing is not interested in the appeal, and I am here based on the judgment of the Court of Appeal which recognised Sheriff as National Chairman of the PDP.â€
He pointed out that the judgment has not been set aside and no order for stay of execution has been obtained, adding that if Markafi faction must appeal the matter, it should be on the platform of an interested party and not as PDP.
However, the panel posed the following questions to him to justify whether or not he should be entertained.
â€œWhat entitles you to be heard in this appeal? And was the decision of the Court of Appeal secured ex-parte?, the panel asked.
Fagbemi, however, told the court that he was in the matter on the instance of Sheriff, who according to him is the validly known national leader of the PDP and has asked him to discontinue the appeal.
But he admitted that the judgment obtained at the appellate court was not via an ex-parte order.
Supporting Fagbemiâ€™s position, Olujimi stated: â€œIt is important to decide on the competence of the appellant/applicant because PDP was respondent at the Court of Appeal.â€
Meanwhile, describing Fagbemiâ€™s motion as â€œa storm in a tea cup,â€ Justice Dattijo granted him seven days to file and serve his written address in support of his motion on parties, while five days were given to Olanipekun to reply.
In addition, the panel gave 14 days to the 1st and 2nd respondents to file and serve their counter affidavit on the appellant.
The Makarfi-led faction had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal, which affirmed Sheriff faction as the authentic leadership of the PDP.