A move by loyalists of Jimoh Ibrahim to frustrate an appeal against his governorship candidacy in Ondo State was foiled by the Court of Appeal on Thursday. The court dismissed an application filed by factional members of Mr. Ibrahim’s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, challenging the jurisdiction of the new panel set up to address the Ondo State crisis. Through their lawyer, Beluolisah Nwofor, the party members questioned the newly constituted panel set up by the President of the Appeal Court, Zainab Bulkachuwa.
Ms. Bulkachuwa reconstituted the panel of three judges led by Ibrahim Salauwa, following an application by a factional chairman of the PDP in Ondo State, Biyi Poroye. Mr. Poroye, also a loyalist of Mr. Ibrahim, had petitioned the National Judicial Council challenging the former panel led by Jummai Sankey, and alleging fraud against Mr. Sankey. Ms. Bulkachuwa, subsequently, dissolved Mr. Sankey’s panel and constituted that of Mr. Salauwa to handle the suit. The nine members who filed Thursday’s application form the 1st to 9th defendants in an application filed by another Ondo State governorship candidate of the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede.
Mr. Jegede is challenging an October 14 Federal High Court judgement that recognised Mr. Ibrahim as the authentic candidate of the PDP for the November 26governorship election in Ondo State. The first to ninth defendants, all members of the party from Mr. Ibrahim’s faction, said the constitution of a new panel over a pre-election matter amounted to an abuse of their right to fair hearing.vTheir lawyer, Mr. Nwofor, said the matter was not time-bound and that the ‘hasty’ manner of approach adopted by the Appeal Court President would affect their right to fair hearing.
He, therefore, prayed the court to disband the panel, saying it lacks jurisdiction on the matter. But delivering its ruling on Thursday, the judges rejected the application. “This is an application that should not be allowed to see the light of day. Assuming that this panel is subject to any review by any court; this should not be the court.
“It is unimaginable that a panel set up by the President of the Appeal Court should be questioned by us,” said Mr. Ibrahim. Other members of the panel, who contributed to the ruling, said the new panel was set up after the first defendant, Biyi Poroye, made his allegations. They wondered why the defendants seamed not satisfied with the court’s consideration of their petition.
“This is a motion by the first to ninth defendants who have made numerous applications to achieve a sinister motive,” the court said. The court also granted the application by Mr. Jegede demanding that the appeal court set aside its rules and allow him appeal previous judgements on the Ondo governorship election by the Federal High Court.