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Ondo election: Drama among PDP lawyers as Appeal Court slates Monday to hear suit

The fresh Court of Appeal panel sitting in Abuja to hear all appeals emanating from the Ondo State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday adjourned sitting till November 7, 2016 after identifying all the processes filed by counsel to all the parties.

The Justice Ibrahim Salauwa-led three man panel took over from Justice Jummai Sankey’s panel which disqualified themselves over bribery allegations.

Other members of the fresh panel set up by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa are Justices Ignatius Igwe Aguba and George Mbaba.

Meanwhile, the fresh panel was confronted with multiple applications for and against the hearing of the appeals.

For instance, while Wole Olanikpekun (SAN) counsel to Mr. Eyitayo Jegede who is seeking leave of court to appeal the judgment of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court prayed the court for accelerated hearing, lead counsel to Prince Biyi Poroye, B.E.I. Ngwufor (SAN) drew the attention of the court to a motion filed on November 3, 2016 challenging the composition of a special panel.

Ngwufor submitted that given the nature of his motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court, his motion should first be determined before that of Jegede.

In his own submissions, counsel to the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff led faction of the PDP, Godswill Mrakpor told the court that neither the application by Jegede nor the motion filed by Ngwufor were ripe for hearing.

He informed the court that the processes in both applications were only served on him on Thursday evening, adding that he needed time to file his response to them.

But it was the application brought by Ahmed Raji (SAN), counsel to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi led faction of the PDP that threw up controversy in the courtroom.

Arguments ensued between Raji and Raphael Oluyode, another counsel representing the Sheriff faction of the PDP, over who has the authority to represent the party in court.

While Oluyode informed the court that there is no appeal from the party against the judgment of Justice Abang, Raji insisted that he has the authority to appeal against the judgment of the trial court.

Besides, Oluyode drew the attention of the court to a motion seeking to strike out the purported appeal by the Makarfi faction of the party in urging the court to invoke Order 11 rule 5 to strike out the appeal.

But Raji stood on his feet to counter the submissions of Oluyode insisting that there was a competent appeal before the court.

Irked by the protracted arguments in court, a member of the panel, Justice Ignatius Igwe Aguba slammed the PDP for its failure to internalise democracy within the party.

Justice Aguba who said he wanted to be quoted stated, “I feel sorry for our country. I feel sorry for the legal profession. There is need for the PDP to internalise democracy, if the party has done that; it will not be passing through this. The party has been factionalised and now come before us to wash its dirty linings in court. Go and put your house in order and stop bothering the court.”

Meanwhile, members of state executive of the PDP in six South West states (loyal to Ali Modu Sheriff) led by Biyi Poroye (factional Chairman of the Ondo PDP) have  asked the Court of Appeal  to reverse the decision by its President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to constitute a fresh panel to hear appeals relating to the dispute.