ONDO, NOVEMBER 25, 2016 – The Supreme Court has struck out motions challenging the affirmation of Eyitayo Jegede as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the governorship election billed to hold in Ondo State tomorrow.
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Wednesday affirmed Jegede as the PDP candidate against the October 14 ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja which ordered the removal of his name from the list of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a unanimous judgment delivered by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Nkanu Walter Onnoghen yesterday, the apex court struck out the 14 motions on the grounds that they had been overtaken by events.
Justice Onnoghen, in agreement with the counsel to Jegede, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) said that the interlocutory motions had become academic because the appellate court had already delivered a final judgment in the matter from which the motions emanated.
The apex court directed the appellants in the motions, if they like, to go and appeal against the final judgment of the Appeal Court delivered on Wednesday by the Justice Ibrahim Salauwa-led panel.
Justice Onnoghen said that it would be better and safer for the 14 motions to be embedded in their appeal against the final judgment of the Appeal Court if they have any.
The Supreme Court also said that there was no point hearing the motions piecemeal when the final judgment had been handed down by the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal had granted permission to Jegede to appeal against the ruling of Justice Okon Abang delivered on October 14, at the Federal High Court, in which the judge ordered INEC to accept the name of Jimoh Ibrahim as candidate for the PDP in the Ondo State governorship election.
The Appeal Court had also granted a similar permission to the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee to challenge the Federal High Court ruling that the faction has no locus standing to nominate a candidate for the Ondo gubernatorial poll.
In his own reaction, the counsel to the Sheriff-led faction, Beluolisa Nwofor (SAN) said that his clients would abide by the Supreme Court decision being the highest in the land.
Stakeholders were still sharply divided yesterday on whether or not to postpone the election.
While the Sherriff faction of the PDP in support of Ibrahim wanted INEC to proceed with the poll tomorrow, the Markafi faction in support of Jegede craved more time to prepare.
As at press time, the INEC insisted it would not postpone the election. The spokesman of the commission, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said resources had been mobilised for the election, adding that the commission was ready for the poll. According to him, INEC is not even considering any shift in the election date.
Speaking with The Guardian, the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the Sheriff-led faction, Mr. Bernard Mikko said there was no need to shift the exercise due to the internal crisis within the PDP.
The Lagos PDP spokesman, Mr. Taofik Gani said administratively, it was expected that the commission should shift the election because it had no reason to have shut out Jegede in the first instance.
Giving reasons the exercise must be shifted, Gani said: “As we speak, all the PDP accredited agents for the election are Ibrahim’s loyalists and Jegede has none. He is not even familiar with them.”
According to him, If INEC goes ahead with the election, it is definitely not going to be a free and fair exercise and to salvage that, President Muhammadu Buhari must intervene and give the commission a presidential directive to shift it.