By Samuel Faleye, Akure
The Ali Modu Sheriff led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has withdrawn its petition against some Justices of the Court of Appeal over their alleged bias in the handling of the case leading to the reinstatement of Eyitayo Jegede as its candidate in the last governorship election in Ondo State.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had in a judgment, ordered the substitution of Jegede with Jimoh Ibrahim by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a decision the Court of Appeal reversed.
The party, in a letter dated, January 31, 2017 addressed to the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, the party expressed regret over its position in the petition.
The PDP had, in the petition dated November 17, 2016 accused the Justice Ibrahim Saulawa-led panel of bias and urged the Acting CJN to among others, direct the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to order the panel to stop hearing the appeal marked: CA/A/551/2016 relating to the Ondo dispute.
The January 31, 2016 letter was signed by Prof Wale Oladipo and Bashir Maidugu (as PDP’s National Secretary and National Legal Adviser).
Part of the letter, obtained by The Nation yesterday, reads: “With utmost humility and greates respect to your Lordship, we write in respect of our earlier petition dated 17th November 2016 in which we urged your Lordship to direct the Honourable President of the Court of Appeal to instruct the Justice Ibrahim Saulawa-led panel of Justices to stop all further proceedings in respect of appeal No: CA/A/551/2016 wherein judgment had been delivered.
“Upon a more sober reflection, we humbly apply to withdraw the said petition against the Justices and regret any inconvenience same may have occasioned on all affected parties.”
Justice Saulawa referred to the letter of withdrawal at the proceedings of his panel yesterday. He said it was the right thing to do and commended lawyer to the petitioners, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), for advising his clients appropriately.
Olujinmi, who is lawyer to Biyi Poroye and some other state officials of the PDP in the South-west, loyal to the Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of party, acknowledged the authorship of the letter by his clients.
The panel, in the course of its proceedings yesterday, granted leave to Olujinmi’s clients, the PDP and one of the party’s chieftain, Pegba Otemolu to appeal its decisions at the Supreme Court.
Otemolu was represent at Thursday’s proceedings by Alex Iziyon (SAN), who moved his client’s application for leave to appeal in view of the uncertainty whether the ground of appeal was that of fact or mixed fact and law.
The panel has scheduled hearing for today on the appeal over the dispute in relation to which, among the Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff factions possesses the right to act and take decisions on behalf of the party.
The Nation learnt yesterday the Port-Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal has fixed February 17 for judgment in the appeal by the Sheriff faction against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port-Harcourt, recognising the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee as the true leadership organ of the party.