Ondo election: Appeal Court slates November 1, 2 for definite hearing of appeals

The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division on Saturday slated November 1 and 2, 2016 for definite hearing of the appeals over the governorship tussle, between the Senators Ali Modu-Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State.

The court, in its proceedings on Saturday, disposed of preliminary issues in the appeals filed by the Makarfi led faction of the PDP and granted parties in the appeals extension of time to harmonise their processes and thereafter directed the parties to file and exchange their written addresses on or before November 1, 2016.

Eyitayo Jegede in appeal no.: CA/A/551c/2016, is challenging the October 14, 2016 ruling of Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja, directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim as the sole candidate of the PDP in the Ondo State governorship election, slated for next month.

PDP is also challenging the said ruling, while the third appeal, between Markafi and Chief Benson Akingboye was withdrawn for being incompetent and was subsequently struck out by the three-member Justices of the appellate court sitting on the panel.

On the issue of legal representation of the PDP in the appeal, which was an issue, the court held that it would be taken together with the substantive appeal explaining that doing so at this stage will pre-empt the substance of the appeal.

Meanwhile, the Makarfi-led faction of the party informed the court that Mr. Clark Paiko and Co has the mandate of the party to appeal against the June 29 judgement and the October 14, 2016, ruling of Justice Okon Abang.

In a counter affidavit to the objectors affidavit on support of motion on notice of October 27 despised to by one Dalapo Kehinde, it was averred that Mr. Godswill Mrakpo, Olagoke Fakunle and Rapheal Oluyede, have no iota of legal authority to challenge any of the processes filed  on behalf of the appellant or appear on behalf of the appellant.

Kehinde averred that, “the name of Olagoke Fakunle (SAN), appeared validly on the originating summons as taken it out on behalf of the plaintiff, 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 surrogates.

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

“That the judgement of June 29, 2016 and the post judgement order of October 14, 2016, in clear violation of appellant constitutions and decisions 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 governorship primaries for the purpose of nominating it’s candidate.”

Justice Abang had, in the said judgment, upheld Sheriff as the authentic National Chairman of the PDP, having nullified Makarfi’s appointment 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.

Recall that there was an order by a Lagos State Federal High Court restraining Makarfi’s caretaker committee from parading themselves as the party executives.

Another Federal High Court in Lagos also declared the Sheriff faction as illegal which the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court upheld.

The orders came on May 12 and May 20, 2016 while the PDP convention took place on May 21.

Justice Abang 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.

Abang said the Port Harcourt Federal High Court had the same co-ordinate jurisdiction with that of Lagos division.

According to Abang, the judgment of the Port Harcourt division which recognised the Makarfi led caretaker committee was unlawful, illegal and had no foundation in law to stand, and added that anything done in contravention of the two subsisting orders were unlawful, illegal and should not be recognised.