The interlocutory appeals that sought to void leave granted to Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, to query the high court judgement that nearly barred him from participating in tomorrow’s Ondo governorship election as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate was yesterday struck out by the Supreme court.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgement by a five-man panel of Justices led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, threw out 14 separate motions filed before it by chieftains of the PDP from six South-West states.
Justice Onnoghen who delivered the ruling, held that the interlocutory appeals had turned “academic”, considering the fact that the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had already delivered verdict on the substantive matter.
However, the apex court declined to award cost against the appellants, who are loyal to the Ali Modu-Sheriff faction of the PDP.
Onnoghen held that it was against the rules of the court to determine interlocutory appeals and motions when a lower court had decided on the substantive issues. “To this end, all interlocutory appeals relating to the Ondo State PDP governorship crisis and the leadership tussle of the party at the national level are hereby struck out. The contending parties are ordered to go back to the lower court and do the needful. That would mean filing notice of appeal on the judgment of the Court of appeal,” he stated.
Reacting to the ruling, Jegede’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, who commended the apex court for paving the way for speedy resolution of the Ondo PDP crisis, said his client was not afraid of whatever appeal the appellants would file against Court of Appeal judgement removing Jimoh Ibrahim and reinstating Jegede as the PDP standard bearer.
Counsel to the appellants, Chief Beluolisa Nwofor, SAN, said his clients would abide by the Supreme Court ruling. He however lamented that germane issues of law his clients raised in the motions were not determined on their merit.
In a related development, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in tomorrow’s governorship election, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, yesterday, led hundreds of his supporters to the state Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, demanding for the postponement of the election by four weeks.
He anchored his request on two issues: PDP is yet to submit list of party agents for election and yet to receive the voters’ register to be used for the poll.
Also, the Ondo PDP Chairman, Clement Faboyede said in Akure that for fairness, justice and equity, the poll should be shifted by four weeks to allow peace to continue to reign in the state.
Meanwhile, the state government has declared today as public holiday to enable workers prepare for Saturday’s governorship election. The state Head of Service, Toyin Akinkuotu, in a statement directed all heads of MDAs to inform workers in their offices of the work free day.
Jegede, who arrived Akure, the state capital, yesterday, was welcomed by hundreds of party chieftains who trooped to the airport and accompanied him to his campaign office before he led them to INEC office.
In a long convoy, Jegede caused a stir as the state capital erupted in jubilation for the third day running over his victory over Jimoh Ibrahim who was sacked by the Court of Appeal.
For hours, the airport road to Oba-Ile-Fiwasaye and Alagbaka was completely blocked causing gridlock.
Jegede, who waited for about 30 minutes at the entrance of the INEC office was received by the Resident Electoral Commissioner REC, Olusegun Agbaje and other officials of the Commission.
Security agents stationed at the commission prevented Jegede and PDP leaders from gaining entry into the office, saying that the distribution of election materials was ongoing.
Jegede said: “We are asking INEC to shift the election and give me also the opportunity to enjoy the same rights and privileges that other political parties’ candidates have enjoyed’’ in accordance with certain provisions of the Electoral Act 2010.
He drew the attention of the REC to sections 34,45 (1) and 74 of the Act. Section 34 makes it mandatory for the commission to publish the names and addresses and the political parties of each candidate contesting the election on the commission’s website and display same in its offices.
“As it is, the PDP has not forwarded the list of its agents to the commission . Whichever way one may look at the situation on ground, the governorship election of Ondo state slated for 26 November if conducted will undoubtedly be in breach of the Electoral Act (2010) as amended. In the light of the foregoing that I request you to differ the governorship election for Ondo state for at least 30 days so as not to conduct the election in flagrant violation of the Electoral Act (2010) as amended.’’
His words: “On 27th October, 2016, INEC published the name of Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In doing so, the commission premised its action on the ruling of Hon. Justice Okon Abang delivered on the 14 of October 2016.
“It is now common knowledge that the Court of Appeal in its judgement of the 23 of November 2016 set aside the ruling of Hon Justice Abang and in effect recognize me as the candidate of the PDP.
“It becomes mandatory for the commission to publish a fresh list of candidates to reflect the current position. In doing this, the commission must give effect to the 30 days prescribed by Section 34 of the Electoral Act . Again, section 45 (1) of the Electoral Act enjoins each political party to forward the names of its agents in each of the polling units to the commission at least 7 days before the day of the election.
“We also refer to section(74) of the Act which provides for every result sheet to be counter signed by polling agents. On 23 November, 2016, the court of Appeal set aside the decision of Hon Justice Okon Abang, given on the 29th of June which had recognized a set of people as the state executive members of the PDP (Ondo state Chapter). Again, that judgment was set aside by the Court of Appeal on 23 November 2016.