The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, reserved its ruling on a motion seeking to disband the fresh panel constituted to resolve dispute over the governorship ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State.
The Special Panel led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa adjourned to rule on the application by six chieftains of the PDP in the South West states, asking it to hands-off the matter.
The applicants who are led by factional Chairman of the PDP in Ondo State, Prince Biyi Boroye, through their lawyer, Mr. Benson Nwufor (SAN), queried the rationale behind the composition of a special panel by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to hear a pre-election matter.
They contended that the new panel was set up in breach of their right to fair hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
Specifically, the applicants who are loyal to the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff faction of the PDP, urged the appellate court to “order the return of case files relating to the appeals and the application for leave to appeal as an interested party (against the decision of the Federal High Court of 14th October 2016 in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/395/2016) – filed by Eyitayo Jegede (factional PDP candidate of the Ondo PDP), to the Registry of the Court of Appeal to take its normal course and turn in the docket of the court.”
The appeals affected by the applicant’s motion are: CA/A/551/2016 filed by Ahmed Makarfi and Ben Obi against Biyi Poroye and 10 others and CA/A/551A/2016 filed by Clement Faboyede and another against 10 others; CA/A551B/2016 filed by the PDP against Biyi Poroye and 9 others and CA/A/551C/2016 filed by Eyitayo Jegede against Prince Biyi Poroye and 10 others.
They argued that not only did the PCA act without hearing from them, the case, being a pre-election matter, does not warrant any urgency to require the constitution of a special panel.
They added that those who filed the appeals against the June 29 and October 14 decisions of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, were not parties in the suits that led to the decisions.
Besides, the group also filed a motion before the Supreme Court seeking a stay of all proceedings before the Court of Appeal in relation to the appeals, pending the determination of the two appeals they filed on October 31, which have been entered and given suit number: SC/914/2016 and SC/915/2016.
Specifically, the motion filed by two members of the party, Benson Akingboye and Ehiozuwa Agbonayiwa, is seeking for a stay of “all further proceedings and further hearing in CA/ABJ/402A/2016 filed on behalf of the PDP by a lawyer engaged by the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the party’s leadership”. They hinged the motion, among other things, on the argument that it was wrong to allow the Court of Appeal to proceed with any of the appeals, when they have valid appeals before the Supreme Court, which is challenging the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, the Justice Salauwa led panel adjourned after it heard five separate appeals that arose from the high court judgement that directed the INEC, to recognise Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim as flag-bearer of the PDP for the November 26 election.
INEC had on the strength of the High Court verdict, substituted Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, who it initially recognised as PDP candidate for the election, with Mr. Ibrahim.
Whereas Jegede emerged from primary election that was sanctioned by the Markarfi-led faction of the PDP, Ibrahim on the other hand, secured his ticket from the Ali Modu-Sheriff- led group. Meantime, the appellate court panel however adjourned hearing on two other suits on the Ondo PDP crisis till this today Tuesday.