Saturday, November 5

Stop Troubling Courts With Your Problems, Judge Tells PDP

Stop Troubling Courts With Your Problems, Judge Tells PDP

Makarfi

A Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ignatius Agube, who is on the court’s panel sitting on the dispute over the Peoples Democratic Party’s ticket for the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State, said on Friday that the party’s failure to internalise democracy within its fold over the years was the cause of its problems.

Justice Agube called on the party to put its house in order and stop belabouring the court with its problems.

He said this while reacting to issues generated during the Friday’s proceedings, when two lawyers representing the Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff factions of the party rose to make conflicting prayers in respect of the appeal filed by the Makarfi camp.

He said, “I have stressed this fact before now. I did so in Kwara and Yobe states, that there is need for the PDP to internalise democracy.
“If they had resolved their issues internally, they would not be here washing their dirty linen in public. Ordinarily, the court has no business resolving your internal disputes.”

Acting on the orders made by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on June 29 and October 14, 2016, the Independent National Electoral Commission had dropped Eyitayo Jegede, who is of Makarfi’s faction and replaced him with Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP’s governorship candidate of the party in the state.

There are now about six pending appeal suits filed by the Makarfi-led faction, and Jegede and others seeking an order compelling INEC to drop Ibrahim and reinstate Jegede as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.

During the Friday’s proceedings, Adedayo Adeyeye and Ben Obi of the Makarfi faction announced that they were representing the PDP; another set of people, including Cairo Ojougboh (Modu Sheriff’s camp) also claimed to be representing the PDP, a development that infuriated Justice Agube.

The panel headed by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa of the Calabar division of the Court of Appeal, adjourned all pending applications in the appeals until November 7 for hearing.

The panel adjourned till Monday despite requests by lawyers to the appellants, including Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN) that their preliminary applications be heard promptly in view of the urgency required by the matter.

In the appeal filed by Jegede, his lawyer, Olanipekun, urged the court to promptly consider his client’s application for leave to appeal the decision of the Federal High Court, Abuja on the issue.

He said the matters were election related, which require expeditious hearing.

The respondents’ lawyers, including Beluolisa Nwofor (SAN), said there was no urgency in the cases because they were pre-election matters, which did not require any special panel to be heard.

Nwofor argued that if the court must conduct any further proceedings in the cases, it must first determine the motion on notice, which he filed for his client on November 3, 2016, challenging the jurisdiction of the new panel to sit over the appeals.

In the motion filed for members of state executive of the PDP in the six South West states, including Biyi Poroye, who is the chairman of the Sheriff faction of the party in the state, they asked the court to reverse the decision by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to constitute the fresh panel.

They also asked the court to disband the panel on the grounds that it was allegedly constituted in breach of their right to fair hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the Constitution.

The applicants’ equally prayed the court to order the return of the 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 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 affected appeals 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 nine others and CA/A/551C/2016 filed by Eyitayo Jegede against Prince Biyi Poroye and 10 others

They argued that not only did the President of the Court of Appeal acted without hearing from them, the case, being a pre-election matter did 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, 2016 decisions of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja were not parties in the cases leading to the decisions.

The applicants also argued that no orders were made against any of them (those behind the new appeals) and that they (the applicants), who were plaintiffs in the suits, were not informed when the President of the Court of Appeal acted solely on the request by the appellants to constitute the panel on the grounds of urgency.

They 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 numbers: SC/914/2016 and SC/915/2016.

The motion filed by two members of the party, Benson Akingboye and Ehiozuwa Agbonayiwa, particularly seeks 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.

Their motion was hinged on, among others, that it was wrong to allow the Court of Appeal to proceed with the appeals when they had valid appeals before the Supreme Court, which challenged the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal.

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