The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has declared Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, as the rightful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the Ondo governorship election billed for Saturday.
In an unanimous judgment, the Justice Ibrahim Saulawa led three-man Special Panel of the appellate court, vacated the June 29 judgement of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to recognise Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim as PDP gubernatorial candidate for the poll.
Jegede had approached the appellate court to challenge the high court verdict which ordered INEC to only relate with the Ali Modu-Sheriff faction of the PDP.
Justice Abang had on October 14, also re-affirmed his decision, even as he warned the electoral body against accepting any candidate nominated by the Senator Ahmed Markafi-led National Caretaker Committee of the PDP.
Acting on the strength of the order, INEC, promptly removed Jegede’s name from the list of candidates for the Ondo gubernatorial poll, and replaced it with Mr. Ibrahim.
It will be recalled that whereas Jegede emerged from primary election that was sanctioned by the Markarfi-led NWC of the PDP, Ibrahim on the other hand, secured his ticket from the Modu-Sheriff faction of the party.
Meanwhile, in its verdict on Wednesday, the appellate court, held that Justice Abang’s refusal of to grant fair hearing to Jegede, “rendered the entire proceedings before his court a nullity”. According to Justice Saulawu, “Indeed it is obvious from the records that the appellant’s name had been duly published as the governorship candidate of the 11th respondent (PDP) for the November 26 Ondo governorship election” Eyitayo Jegede and Jimoh Ibrahim It held that the lower court was in grievous error when it ordered the publication of Ibrahim’s name.
It said the decision of the high court was in total breach of the provision of section 36 of the 1999 constitution, which it said forbade any court from denying fair hearing to a party likely to be affected by final decision of the court.
Justice Saulawa, said the action of the court violated the legal doctrine of audi altarem partem. “The tenets of natural Justice entails that a party ought to be heard prior to determination of case against them”.