Ondo guber: Turmoil as Eyitayo Jegede tackles Jimoh Ibrahim

Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has granted an application by a governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State, Eyitayo Jegede, to challenge the judgment of Justice Okon Abang, of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC )to remove his name and replace it with that of billionaire business man, Jimoh Ibrahim.

This was after the court threw out the motion brought by members of state executive of the PDP in the six South-West states (loyal to Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff), led by Biyi Poroye (factional chairman of Ondo PDP), seeking the disbandment of the newly-constituted three-man panel, led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa.

In the struck out motion, applicants alleged that setting up of the special panel was in breach of their right to fair hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the Constitution, as amended.

Poroye and others 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 October 14, 2016 in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/395/2016) – filed by 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.”

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However, the appellate court refused to grant the motion and assumed jurisdiction to sit on all appeals emanating from Ondo chapter of the PDP. The court held that no litigant has the power to challenge the administrative power of the PCA to set up a panel to hear a matter and as such, the PCA needs not to consult the litigants before setting up a fresh panel.

Jegede had emerged from the faction of Senator Ahmed Makarfi, while Ibrahim emerged from Sheriff’s  faction.
Jegede’s name was first submitted to INEC by the Makarfi faction of the party before it was later removed following the judgment of Justice Abang.

After the submission, the Sheriff faction approached the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to challenge the submission of Jegede’s name. In his ruling, Justice Abang ordered INEC to remove Jegede’s name and replace it with that of Ibrahim.

Although Jegede was not a party at the lower court, he had through his counsel approached the Appeal Court seeking for leave to appeal as interested party. Counsel to the factional PDP Chairman, Prince Poroye, B. E. I. Nwofor however opposed the application.

Delivering ruling in Jegede’s application, a full panel of the court in a unanimous decision upheld the submission of the applicant and granted the same as prayed.
Justice Salauwa held that Jegede had been able to prove to the court that he was affected by the judgment of the lower court. The court, ‎however, held that the notice of appeal filed by the applicant should be deemed as properly filed and that the applicant should file and serve all his application on the respondents within 24 hours.

The court however gave the respondents three days for file their reply. Earlier, the court had dismissed an application filed by the Sheriff faction seeking the panel to disband the fresh panel set up by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to hear the matter.

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The court, however, dismissed the application for lacking in merit. The Sheriff faction had written a petition alleging the first panel, led by Justice Hannatu Sankey of bribery to the tune of N350 million by Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State.

After the panel recluse itself, the case file was returned to the PCA, who in turn set up a fresh panel to hear the matter. As at the time of filing this report, the court was still hearing a similar application brought by the Makarfi-led faction of the PDP as well as other sundry applications and motions relating to the subject matter on appeal.

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