Ondo Guber: Legal battle over candidature of Jegede, Jimoh Ibrahim shifts to Appeal Court


Jimoh Ibrahim… Court fixes Nov 1, 2 to take arguments

Legal fireworks, on Saturday, began at the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal over the last Thursday decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise multi-billionaire businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

INEC had removed the name of Mr Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) from the list of candidates earlier submitted to it on the account that a Federal high court sitting in Abuja had ordered it to field Mr Jimoh Ibrahim.

The decision had jolted supporters of Eyitayo into protest while supported of Kbrahim went into a wild jubilation.

The Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko had stormed Aso Villa in protest, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene.

INEC  had said that its hands were tied, saying it could only change the status quo if there was a superior court order directing it to take steps contrary to insertion of Jimoh Ibrahim’s name.

INEC had said there was still enough time for the parties to ventilate their grievancies and get judgment before the date fixed for the election.

All factions of the PDP laying clams to rights to produce the gubernatorial candidate for the party are already at the Court of Appeal.

THE intermediate appellate court, had on Saturday, fixed November 1 and 2, 2016 to hear the multiple appeals and other auxiliary motions relating to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State.

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The appellate court fixed the dates on Saturday after parties to the appeals harmonised all pending preliminary applications bordering on the substantive issues on appeal.

Meanwhile, the Senator Ahmed Markarfi-led faction of the PDP has told the court that the judgment of Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court was fraudulently obtained by the Senator Ali Amodu Sherriff-led faction of the party.

While the application brought by Eyitayo Jegede, the candidate of the Markarfi faction will be heard on Tuesday, that of the Makarfi-led PDP will take its turn on Wednesday.

However, the appeal brought by the Makarfi faction against Chief Benson Akingboye suffered a major blow as it was struck out by the court for being incompetent.

Jegede had approached the court seeking to upturn the order, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) followed in announcing Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP candidate.

On October 14, Okon Abang, a judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had ordered INEC to recognise Ibrahim, who belongs to the Sherriff faction.

When Jegede returned to the court last Thursday, Abang held that he lacked the locus standi to appeal the decision of the court.

“The only case where the applicant would have been considered as having a locus standi to contest the October 14 judgment is if he had taken part in the August 29 primary conducted by Mr. Sheriff’s faction,” Abang had said.

At the Appeal Court on Saturday, the three-man panel of judges led by Jummai Sankey said due to the urgency of Jegede’s application, the court would hear the matter on Tuesday.

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“In view of the contentious notice, the appellant objector and appellant applicant are hereby given 24 hours to file their processes. Application of the appellant applicant will be heard on Tuesday,” Sankey ruled.

The court also said it would hear an application filed by the Makarfi faction of the PDP challenging the ruling which declared it illegal.

Meanwhile, the Makarfi faction of PDP had informed the court that Messer’s Clark, Paiko and Co, has the mandate of the party to appeal against the June 29 judgment and the October 14 ruling of Justice Abang.

In a counter affidavit to the objectors’ affidavit in support of notice of motion filed on October 27 deposed to by one Dolapo Kehinde, it was averred that Messer’s Godswill Mrakpor, Olagoke Fakunle and Raphael Oluyede had no iota of legal authority to challenge any of the processes filed on behalf of the Makarfi-led PDP.

Kehinde averred: “That the name of Fakunle appeared validly on the originating summon as taken it out on behalf of the plaintiffs but he appeared for the second defendant (appellant) in the same proceedings on the instructions of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff of which the plaintiffs are his surrogate.

“The scenario that played out at the court below was almost entirely between Sheriff and his surrogates appearing as defendant and plaintiffs with the consequence that proceedings at the lower court were concealed from the legitimate authority of the appellant.

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“That the judgment of June 29 and post judgment order of October 14 in clear violation of appellant constitution and divisions of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, purported to negate the firmly entrenched rule that only the National Executive Committee or the National Working Committee of the appellant, and not the state executive committee of the appellant, is competent to conduct the gubernatorial primaries for the purpose of nominating its candidate.”

It could be recalled that Justice Abang in the said judgment upheld Sheriff as the authentic National Chairman of the PDP, having nullified the appointment of Makarfi as chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the party.

Abang said the purported convention held in Port-Harcourt on May 21 by the Makarfi caretaker committee was a total violation of court orders.

Justice Abang had also restrained the Makarfi’s caretaker committee from exercising any authority or taking any decision on behalf of the PDP on account of being an illegal body.

The judge said Makarfi’s caretaker committee had missed their way by heading to the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court to obtain a favourable judgment.

According to Abang, the judgment of the Port Harcourt division which recognised the Makarfi-led caretaker committee is unlawful, illegal and has no foundation in law to stand, adding that anything done in contravention of the two subsisting orders are unlawful, illegal and should not be recognised.