By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, Monday, reserved its ruling on a motion seeking to disband the fresh panel constituted to resolve dispute over the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ondo State.
The Justice Ibrahim Salauwa-led Special panel adjourned to rule on the application by six chieftains of the PDP in the South West States, asking it to hands-off the matter.
The applicants who are led by Chairman of the PDP in Ondo State, Prince Biyi Boroye, through their lawyer, Mr. Benson Nwufor, SAN, queried the rationale behind the composition of a special panel by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to hear a pre-election matter.
They contended that the new panel was set up in breach of their right to fair hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
Specifically, the applicants who are loyal to the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff faction of the PDP, urged the appellate court to “order the return of case files relating to the appeals and the application for leave to appeal as an interested party (against the decision of the Federal High Court of 14th October 2016 in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/395/2016) – filed by Eyitayo Jegede (factional PDP candidate of the Ondo PDP), to the Registry of the Court of Appeal to take its normal course and turn in the docket of the court.”
The appeals affected by the applicant’s motion are: CA/A/551/2016 filed by Ahmed Makarfi and Ben Obi against Biyi Poroye and 10 others and CA/A/551A/2016 filed by Clement Faboyede and another against 10 others; CA/A551B/2016 filed by the PDP against Biyi Poroye and 9 others and CA/A/551C/2016 filed by Eyitayo Jegede against Prince Biyi Poroye and 10 others.
They argued that not only did the PCA acted without hearing from them, they insisted that the case, being a pre-election matter, does not warrant any urgency to require the constitution of a special panel.
They added that those who filed the appeals against the June 29 and October 14 decisions of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, were not parties in the suits that led to the decisions.
The applicants also argued that no orders were made against any of those behind the new appeals, and that they (the applicants), who were plaintiffs in the suits, were not informed when the PCA acted solely on the request by the appellants to constitute the panel on the grounds of urgency.