SUPREME Court yesterday ordered the Court of Appeal to immediately resume hearing of all cases relating to the candidacy of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the Saturday governorship election in Ondo State. The plea for an order to stop the appellate court from further hearing of the cases made by the Jimoh Ibrahim faction of the party was dismissed by the apex
court. Acting Chief Justice to Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen cleared the coast for the Appeal Court following the dramatic withdrawal of 10 different motions by the Jimoh Ibrahim faction praying the apex court to stop hearing of all the legal actions relating to the governorship election. The Jimoh Ibrahim faction in Ondo State, which is an offshoot of the Ali Modu Sheriff faction led by one Prince Biyi Poroye, had last Friday filed a motion against the three Appeal Court justices accusing them of bias and betrayal of their oath of office in the way and manner they were handling the legal actions. The motion, in which the three justices led by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa were joined as parties at the Supreme Court, led to the stay of proceedings at the appellate court. The judgement billed to be delivered on Friday in an appeal filed by a factional governorship candidate in Ondo, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, was also aborted as a result of the motion in which the justices were castigated. When the motions were about to be moved by counsel to Poroye, Mr. Beluolisa Nwofor, SAN, the counsel in dramatic u-turn announced the withdrawal of the motions prompting Justice Onnoghen, who presided over the proceedings, to dismiss the motions and awarded a cost of N250,000 against those who filed them. Justice Onnoghen ordered the Appeal Court to resume hearing of the cases forthwith, because they were pre- election matters and because of the urgency they deserved. Although Nwofor, who earlier served the lower court the 10 motions, asked the Supreme Court to strike them out, but the court instead dismissed them for lacking in merit. In another ruling delivered by Justice Onnoghen, the apex court refused to disqualify the three Appeal Court justices hearing the appeals. Onnoghen said that the prayer of the Jimoh Ibrahim faction brought before the Supreme Court was in bad taste, as it was aimed at scandalising, criminalising and intimidating the justices in the process of doing their job. The acting CJN said that it was unprofessional and un-ethical for the counsel to the applicants to have joined the three justices as defendants in the motion, when the law forbids joining justices as parties in the matter they are handling. He held that the effort at scandalising the justices was irritating as it could bring anarchy to the country’s democracy. The CJN ordered Nwofor to personally pay a sum of N1million each in all the motions in which the Appeal Court judges were unlawfully joined as defendants and another sum of N500,000 to other respondents in the appeal. Justice Onnoghen, who was furious with the ways and manners the Appeal Court justices were turned to defendants in the matter before them, stated that the appellants or anyone had no right to box a court to a corner and turn around to scandalise same court. However, the apex court panel fixed Thursday to hear the substantive appeal challenging leave that was granted to Jegede to appeal the June 29 judgement of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which recognised Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim as flag-bearer of the PDP for the November 26 governorship poll in Ondo State, and then adjourned to 24 to hear the substantive suit.

READ ALSO  Court sends ex-governor to Kuje prison