By Sadiq Umar – The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja Thursday reserved judgment in the appeal challenging the ruling of the lower court which recognised Ali Modu-Sheriff chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Justice Ibrahim Salauwa, the Chairman of the Special Panel of the appellate court, reserved the judgment after counsel to the parties adopted their addresses.
It would be recalled that on June 29, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja division upheld Mr. Sheriff as the Acting National Chairman of the party.
However, the appellate court on November 11 granted Ahmed Makarfi, Ben Obi and Eyitayo Jegede leave to appeal the decision.
The decision bestowed the Sheriff’s faction of the PDP the right to conduct governorship primary of the party for the November 26 Ondo State governorship election.
The dispute later resulted in an interlocutory ruling by Justice Abang who ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to replace Mr. Jegede’s name with that of Ibrahim Jimoh.
Mr. Jegede was granted leave to appeal the ruling last week and has since approached the appellate court for reversal.
Counsel to the appellants, Wole Olanipekun, in his submission argued that the Federal High Court erred in the two decisions.
Mr. Olanipekun said that Mr. Jegede emerged as candidate of the party to contest the Ondo governorship election from well conducted primary recognized by the National Working Committee of the Party.
“The National Executive Committee of the party as well as the National leadership headed by Caretaker Committee supervised the primary in Akure.
“Who should be the authentic candidate of the party, Ibrahim Jimoh that was a product of a gathering in Ibadan?’’
“The selection of candidates for elections is solely the right of the political parties and not to be done by the court.
“The court also lacks the jurisdiction to appoint leaders for political parties,” he said
Mr. Olanipekun urged the court to set aside the decision of the lower court and uphold his client, Jegede as the candidate of the party for the Ondo election.
However, Beloulisa Nwafor, counsel to Biyi Poroye, Ondo State chairman of the PDP and nine others, prayed the court to dismiss the appeal, adding that it was not ripe for hearing.
Mr. Nwafor said the court also lacked jurisdiction to entertain the appeal.
Mr. Poroye and the nine others had approached the Supreme Court to challenge the leave given to the appellants to appeal the decision of the lower court.
“Your Lordships, I urge you to wait until our appeal is determined before any proceedings can take place.
“Alternatively, if the court will not be stopped by the pendency of our appeal at the Supreme Court, then the court should review the objections we raised against this appeal,” Mr. Nwafor said.
He argued that the appellants filed two different appeals with contradictory pleadings and described that action as abuse of court process.
“It is trite in law that when two processes are filed in a matter with similar characteristics, the later should be dismissed.
“The appellants have in this case relied on the process filed on November 16 which contradicts the one they filed on November 15.
“The implication of this is that there is no appeal before this court and therefore we urge the court to dismiss this appeal forthwith,” he said.
On his part, Raphael Oluyede, counsel to the PDP said he was unable to turn in his counter affidavit but prayed to align with Nwafor’s submissions.