By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
Barely days to the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the crisis in the South-west region of the party as two divisions of the Court of Appeal have given separate rulings over the leadership tussle in the zone.
The rulings it was learnt has sparked confusion following the interpretation being given to the two orders by the warring camps.
While Eddy Olafeso claimed the order for stay of execution from the Ado-Ekiti Division of the appellate court had conferred legitimacy on him, the Makanjuola Ogundipe-led exco says it remains the authentic excutive 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 on Monday adjourned two motions seeking to relist two appeals it had dismissed till April 12, 2018. However the Ado-Ekiti Division on the 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.
Ogundipe, in a statement in Abuja yesterday insisted that his executive would attend the convention, the Eddy Olafeso-led group has also maintained that it has triumphed over the Ogundipe-led executive.
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal had on May 4, 2017 dismissed two appeals against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos recognising the Ogundipe-led South-West zonal exco as well the Mr. Adebayo Dayo-led Ogun State PDP executive.
Specifically, two PDP matters came up Monday at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.
The first one, CA/L/863/2016 was said to be between PDP and Pegba Otemolu & others, while the second case CA/L/864/2016 was between PDP vs. Mr. Adebayo Dayo & others.
Makanjuola said, “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 excutive 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 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 October 11, 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.”
Olafeso, in his reaction, to the Appeal Court order, thanked Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, describing the order as ” victory over the forces of darkness.”
He said that the proceedings at the Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti should be a clear message to those who “have used crooked judicial process to hold our party down that their game has come to an inglorious end.”