Lawyer hands off Ekiti PDP faction’s case over petition against jury

Counsel for the Williams Ajayi faction of the Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State, Mr. Niran Owoseeni, has opted to withdraw from the matter pending before the Court of Appeal, following a letter that was said to have been written by the publicity secretary of the faction to the court.

At the Wednesday’s sitting of the court, Owoseni, representing the respondents, made the move over the letter that allegedly defamamed the justices of the Ekiti Division of the Court of Appeal, as well as the publication of same in a national newspaper.

Owoseeni said the letter, said to have been written by the Publicity Secretary of Ajayi’s faction, Mr. Dayo Owolabi, was a threat to his career and that he would “never be a party to any attempt to rubbish the temple of justice.”

The counsel had tried to explain the absence of the parties in the matter, which the judges, led by Justice Ahmad Olarewaju Belgore, had ordered him to produce in court today.

The Lawyer had explained that his decision not to continue as a counsel in the matter formed part of the explanations he offered to justify why he failed to produce Owolabi in court despite the court’s directive.

Justice Belgore had, on Monday, ordered Owolabi to appear in court and explain why the said letter that had alleged that the justices were planning to arrest a high court judgement in their matter.

The statement dated January 20, 2017, which was submitted at the office of the Appeal Court’s Registrar, accused the justices of bias over their failure to conduct the sitting of January 19, 2017, which centred on whether the judgement of January 24 at the Federal High Court should be held or suspended .

The High Court’s judgement delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo basically centred on which faction is authentic between Ajayi and Barr. Gboyega Oguntuase-led groups.

Owoseni said: “I have decided to step aside because I can’t be part of any attempt to malign your lordships. I won’t conduct myself in a way that will put judiciary in discomfort. I urge your lordships to allow me to step aside for another lawyer to take up this matter.”

“But with all sense of responsibility, I delivered your message to them that you asked them to appear in court today. But I want to believe that the publicity the matter attracted must have scared them,” he said.

He pleaded for adjournment of the case, pointing out that he was served with two counter affidavits by the appellant (Oguntuase) on Tuesday, which he needed time to respond to.

Lawyer to the Appellant, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who appealed to the justices to overlook the matter said: “the statement against your lordships was very scary, opprobrious and odious to say the least.”

“Judiciary is the third arm of government that gives nerves and valves to democracy. I have practiced law for 36 years and I feel sorry for this country about how your lordships are being insulted. Please, just take it easy with them.”

Ozekhome, however, contended that it could have been better if the author of the letter had appeared to clear his name.

He said the adjournment being sought by the respondent was needless, saying he would have to request for cost under this circumstance.

The presiding justice Belgore, said “we are not trying him for writing against us or sending him to prisons, but it could have been better for him to come so that we can tell him the gravity of his offence.”

Justice Belgore, in his brief ruling awarded N100,000 cost against the respondent to cover the cost of transportation for the appellant’s legal team. Justice Belgore also adjournment the case to March 20, 2017.

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