The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Justice Ibrahim Saulawa-led panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which is handling the various cases relating to the dispute over the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship ticket in the forthcoming election in Ondo State, to continue with its proceedings.
The five-man panel of the apex court led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, made the order after 10 applications asking for stay of the Court of Appeal’s proceedings were withdrawn by the applicant’s lawyer, Mr. Beluolisa Nwofor (SAN).
With the Tuesday’s order, the Justice Saulawa panel can go ahead to deliver its reserved judgments on the appeals filed by Eyitayo Jegede and a factional leader of the PDP, Ahmed Makarfi, challenging Jegede’s replacement by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the party’s governorship candidate for the election scheduled to take place on November 26.
Acting on the orders of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja made on June 28 and October 14, 2016, INEC had dropped Jegede and substituted him with Jimoh Ibrahim of Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP as the authentic governorship candidate of the party in Ondo State.
The Justice Saulawa panel had heard and reserved its judgments on the appeals after hearing them between November 16 and 17.
But on November 18, the appeal court panel suspended its proceedings with respect to all the pending appeals relating to the dispute over the party’s ticket for the election slated to hold next Saturday, on the grounds of the pending motions for stay of proceedings pending before the apex court.
The appeal court panel had ruled that it would stay proceedings pending when the Supreme Court would determine the motions for stay of proceedings and another setting aside the November 16 proceedings of the appeal pending before the apex court.
The motions for stay of proceedings were filed before the apex by nine respondents before the appeal court who were led by Mr. Biyi Poroye, who filed the motion before the Supreme Court are state officials of the Sheriff-led faction of the PDP in the South-West zone.
But at the hearing before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Poroye’s lawyer, Nwofor, withdrew all the 10 motions seeking stay of proceedings of the appeal court.
The lawyer withdrew the motions for stay of proceedings to pave the way for the hearing of his motion seeking the setting aside of the proceedings of the appeal court which were said to have been conducted on November 16 in defiance to pending appeals and applications before the Supreme Court.
The application to withdraw the 10 motions for stay was not opposed by other lawyers appearing for other parties to the suit.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court dismissed the motions having been withdrawn without objection.
Reading the lead ruling of the apex court, Justice Onnoghen held that the motions for stay of proceedings having been withdrawn, the appeal court “is ordered to continue its proceedings forthwith”.
The order of the apex court on Tuesday paved the way for the appeal court to go ahead to deliver its reserved judgment.