By Martins Odeh
The Court of Appeal, Abuja on Wednesday removed Jimoh Ibrahim as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 26 November election in Ondo State.
Eyitayo Jegede, candidate of the Makarfi faction of the party was relisted to face other governorship hopeful, Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress and Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy.
Justice Ibrahim Saulaawa, who led two other Justices in a unanimous decision held that the Federal High Court erred in its 14 October ruling.
Justice Okon Abang had in that ruling substituted Jegede’s name with Jimoh Ibrahim as the governorship candidate of the party.
Saulaawa said the law forbade the trial court or any other court from denying interested parties fair hearing.
He also held that the court equally erred when it ordered INEC to remove the name of the appellant from its nomination register.
The Judge said, Ibrahim who benefited from that `strange order’ was never a party in the suit.
“Justice Okon Abang should know that the Constitution and the Electoral Act empower only the national leadership of political parties to nominate political candidates.
“The trial judge on his own, without allowing parties to present their arguments went ahead to deliver that ruling.
“There is no gainsaying that the extant appeal is meritorious and therefore allowed,” he said
The judge said: “consequently, the Oct. 14 judgment ruling of the trial court is hereby set aside and the appellant”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the appellate court on Nov.10 granted Jegede leave to appeal the decision of the Federal High Court Abuja.
On which group is the authentic leader of the party, Justice George Mbaba described the process that led to the June 29 judgment as a `fraud’.
Mbaba said the trial court breached Section 36(1) of the Constitution by denying the Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker committee right of fair hearing.
The judge therefore held that the judgment of the lower court delivered on June 29 remained void and a nullity.
NAN reports that judgment had affirmed the Sheriff-faction of the PDP as the authentic leadership of the party.
“With this development, all actions taken by the Sheriff-faction, including the selection of Jimoh Ibrahim as candidate of the party remain illegal and with no effect,” he said.
In his earlier submission, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to Jegede and the Ahmed Makarfi-faction had prayed the court to set aside the ruling of the lower court, adding that it was given in bad light.
Olanipekun had also said the court should order the reinstatement of his client as the authentic candidate of the party to contest the election.
According to him, Jegede is the candidate that emerged from the party’s primary conducted in Akure.
He had argued further that Ibrahim’s name was submitted and immediately recognised by INEC following the ruling of the lower court.