By Lateef Ibrahim Abuja
The two conflicting orders given by
two divisions of the Court of Appeal have led to serious confusion over South West PDP delegates to the Saturdays planned national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abuja.
The conflicting orders from the two divisions of the Appeal Court have thus led to an air of uncertainty around the delegates to the convention.
While the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Monday adjourned two motions seeking to relist two appeals it had dismissed till 12th April, 2018, the Ado-Ekiti Division same day granted an order for a stay of execution of the order and proceedings in a matter seeking the enforcement of an earlier judgment.
The confusion arose out of the interpretation being given to the two orders.
While Olafeso claims the order for stay of execution from the Ado-Ekiti Division of the appellate court has conferred legitimacy on him, the Ogundipe-led exco says it remains the authentic exco that should go to the convention by virtue of the fact that it has a subsisting judgment that is yet to be stayed or set aside on appeal.
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal had on the 4th of May, 2017 dismissed two appeals against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos recognising the Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe-led South West zonal exco as well as the Engr. Adebayo Dayo-led Ogun State PDP exco.
Specifically, two PDP matters came up Monday at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal. The first one CA/L/863/2016 was between PDP Vs. Pegba Otemolu & Others. while the second case CA/L/864/2016 was between PDP vs. Engr. Adebayo Dayo & others.
The two matters came up for the hearing of motions filed by Dr. Yemi Oke on behalf of the Appellants to vacate Court of Appeal ruling which dismissed the appeals.
However, despite all the efforts mounted by appellant’s counsel, Oke, the Court of Appeal refused to hear the application as other respondents in the matters were not served the hearing notice.
Consequently, the court adjourned the two appeals till the 12th April, 2018, for hearing of the motions.
On the same Monday, the Ado-Ekiti Division of the Court of Appeal granted an order for a stay of execution of the order restraining Dr. Eddy Olafeso-led group from participating in the December 9 National Convention.
Reacting to the rulings, Ogundipe said, “The attention of the authentic South West Zonal Executive under my leadership has been drawn to the Monday, 4th December, 2017 order of the Court of Appeal, Ekiti Division and a press statement credited to one Eddy Olafeso who has continued to contemptuously lay claim to the leadership of the party in the zone.
“First, it should be made abundantly clear that the order for a stay of execution relates to the orders in Suit No. FHC/AD/CS/18/2017.
“Let all our notable leaders, elders and supporters, it does not in any way detract from the implications of the orders and judgment of the court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/605/2016 which specifically nullified the sham congress from which Olafeso claimed to have emerged and then went ahead to confirm my four years tenure as expiring in October 2018 having been elected on the 11th of October 2014.
“I wish to state that in spite of the inexplicable decision of the Court of Appeal, Ado-Ekiti Division, to make an order even when there was evidence that we (the defendants) had NOT been served and had no legal representation in court, my Exco remains strong and undaunted.
“Even our former lawyers who handled the matter at the trial court said they were served at about 4pm on Thursday, the 30th of November, 2017 and parties were summoned to appear in court on Monday, the 4th of December, 2017. It is a matter of public knowledge that the 1st of December, 2017, is a public holiday in Nigeria, while the 2nd and 3rd of December, 2017, were non-working days, being Saturday and Sunday respectively. The implication of this travesty of justice was that we were unable to brief a lawyer to file any response to the two motions before they came up yesterday and an order for stay of execution granted. Clearly, this violates our right to fair hearing.
“It was on the basis of this that in addition to the letter I had written to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ekiti Division and copied to the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) and the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN), I was personally in court to plead with the justices to give us an adjournment of a day or two for our new counsel to respond to the motions filed before the court.
“But, the court in its wisdom brushed aside my plea and went ahead to grant the stay of execution without affording us the benefit of a legal representation and fair hearing.
“Although my confidence in the judiciary as the hope of the common man is unwavering, I cannot say the same thing of the panel sitting over this matter. The haste with which it has handled this matter against the principles of justice and fair hearing, the panel seems to have descended into the arena of partisan politics.”
It will be recalled that the Federal High Court had ordered the Olafeso faction to stop parading itself as executive members of the party in the South-West.
The order of the Ado-Ekiti Division of the Federal High Court was based on the fact that the Lagos Division of the court had on the 17th of May, 2016, held the congress that produced the Olafeso group was held in violation of subsisting order of the court.
Even the appeals filed against the judgment as well as the one on Ogun State PDP executive were dismissed by a three-man panel of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on the 4th of May, 2017. The panel comprised of Hon. Justice M.L. Garba, Hon. Justice A. O. Obaseki-Adejumo and Hon. Justice J.Y. Tukur.
The court had also held that the four years tenure of the Ogundipe-led zonal exco expires in 2018 having been elected in October 2014.
In a ruling delivered in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/605/2016 on the 17th of May, 2016, the court held “That an order is granted nullifying the South West congress conducted on the 14th of May, 2016 in Akure, which was so conducted in defiance of the order of this court made in this action on the 11th of May 2016 restraining the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants from conducting or permitting or recognizing any election into the offices of the South West Zonal Executive Committee pending the hearing and determination of the Originating Summons…Everything built on actions in defiance of a court order is a nullity.”
Furthermore, in a final judgment delivered on the 24th of June, 2016, the court categorically stated, “That an order is granted to the plaintiff restraining the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants from conducting or permitting or recognizing any election into the offices of the South West Zonal Executive Committee until October, 2018, when the four years term of the current officers, including the plaintiff would have been spent.