The Court of Appeal in Ibadan has set aside an order by a Federal High Court in Abeokuta, directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept the list of Ogun State’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates submitted by the Chief Adebayo Dayo-led faction.
In a unanimous verdict, a three-member appeal panel headed by Justice J. A. Bada held that all decisions from the October 2, 2018 ruling by Justice Abubakar Shittu were a nullity because the PDP and other defendants were not served court processes.
Justice H. S. Tsammani, in a lead judgment, said service was a fundamental requirement and a condition precedent in any adjudication. She stressed that any proceeding and order made on a matter where the defendants were not served remain a nullity.
The counsel for the PDP, Emeka Etiaba, had argued at the hearing of the appeal on Monday that there was no service of processes originating from the decision of the lower court on the appellants whom he said were not given a fair hearing.But counsel for the respondents, Alex Izinyon, noted that service was made and filed affidavit of service sworn to by the bailiff as part of the proof of service.
The bailiff, Bayo Seinde, swore that he dumped the processes at the legal unit of the PDP in Abuja. He said he met a few lawyers who refused to accept the documents because, according to them, a strike was in place.But Tsammani held that the claim by the bailiff in the affidavit showed clearly that service was not executed on the appellants, agreeing that they were denied the right to be heard in the matter.
While the panel resolved all issues raised for determination in favour of the appellants, it ordered that the substantive matter be withdrawn from Justice Abubakar Shittu and re-assigned to another judge by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.Speaking to newsmen after the verdict, a representative of counsel to the appellants, Matthias Ikyzu, said, with the judgment, Senator Buruji Kashamu ceased to be the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun and others from his faction could no longer parade themselves as PDP candidates.
He said Oladipupo Adebutu, whose name the PDP National Working Committee had earlier submitted to INEC before the order, would be restored by the electoral body alongside other elected candidates.He commended the panel for what he called a well-considered judgment, adding that there was no longer any controversy about who the authentic candidates of the PDP in Ogun State were.
But Kashamu’s counsel, Ifeoma Esom, maintained that the ruling did not change her client’s candidacy. “His candidature is predicated on the judgment of Justice I. N. Buba of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court. That judgment is still subsisting and there is no appeal whatsoever against that judgment,” she said.
Also, in a statement, Austin Oniyokor, media aide to Kashamu said: “Our lawyers have taken steps to immediately appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.”He said: “We wish to clarify that contrary to the false news being spread by our opponents, the Court of Appeal did not declare Oladipupo Adebutu or anyone, for that matter, as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun State. That was not the prayers of the PDP who are the appellants in the matter. And so, such a prayer could not have been granted.
“The court specifically held that it was not a pre-election matter where the nomination of candidates is in issue, since the matter was filed by the Adebayo Dayo-led Ogun State PDP and not aspirants.“Having held that it was not a pre-election matter, the Court of Appeal could not have made a pronouncement on the validity or otherwise of the nomination of candidates for the 2019 general election.
“We wish to reassure our teeming supporters, party leaders and elders, friends and associates that nothing has changed. The nomination of Senator Buruji Kashamu and all other candidates of the Ogun State PDP, based on the valid and subsisting judgments mentioned above, has not changed.”
Culled from guardian
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