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There was palpable fear of a break down of law and order in Ondo State yesterday over a ruling of the Appeal Court, which adjourned sine die (indefinitely) in the ongoing legal tussle as to who is the authentic flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next Saturday’s gubernatorial election.
Tension gripped residents as fears grew that there could be a repeat of the crisis that occurred penultimate week, when people trooped to the streets in Akure, the state capital, and other major towns, burning tyres over the announcement of Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP candidate by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The special panel of the Court of Appeal on the PDP’s candidate for election has adjourned sine dine, the appeal filed by Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), in which he is challenging the substitution of his name with that of Jimoh Ibrahim by INEC as the governorship candidate of the party.
The judgment, which was to be delivered yesterday, could not hold as the Justice Ibrahim Saulawa-led panel adjourned indefinitely based on an appeal filed by Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff faction of the party before the Supreme Court challenging the jurisdiction of the special panel.
The Saulawa-led panel also ajdourned all other pending appeals, including the one filed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, relating to the dispute over the governorship ticket of the PDP in the November 26 election.
The panel said it took the decision to adjourn “sine die” in order to await the decision of the Supreme Court on interlocutory appeals filed by the respondents In the motion filed by the Modu-Sheriff faction of the party, members of the special panel were joined as respondents.
The Modu-Sheriff faction had accused the justices of bias and prayed the apex court to restrain them from further proceedings. The motion, Saturday Telegraph gathered, was served on the panel members at about 7:30 pm on Thursday with an allegation that the three justices had betrayed their Oath of Office with the way the appeals had been handled.
The motion also accused the appeal court panel of showing disrespect to the Supreme Court by violating the doctrine of lis pendens (a pending legal action).
The apex court had however fixed November 22 to hear the appeal. Salauwa announced to the parties that some set of applicants who had before now submitted a petition against the previous panel, had again filed a motion against the new panel at the Supreme Court seeking to stop further proceedings in relation to all matters touching on the PDP governorship candidature.
Jegede calls for calm
Reacting, the governorship candidate of the Makarfi faction, Eyitayo Jegede, called for calm. In a statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of his campaign organisation,Kayode Fasua, Jegede said he was not unmindful of the fact that the temporary setback is the handiwork of some antidemocratic elements bent on truncating his mandate.
He however said as a true believer in the rule of law and judiciary, he will be at the Supreme Court on Tuesday to thrash out issues raised by the appellants.
He said the objective of the appellants is to stop a review of an earlier contrived judgment, through various baseless petitions, spurious blackmail and media propaganda, adding that the day of reckoning is near for the antidemocratic elements.
Jegede appealed to his supporters and believers in his course that despite the hurt they feel, they should not take laws into their hands but remain resolute and intensify their door-to-door campaigns, restating that he will contest and win the upcoming poll.
“I call on our supporters to remain calm, and not be weighed down by the latest developments which I believe should only strengthen our resolve in ensuring that despite all contrivances and manipulations, we will contest and win the November 26 governorship election.”
He said his team of lawyers are working assiduously to ensure that “this grave injustice to subvert” his mandate, through several devious means of propaganda, blackmail and unprecedented assault against the judiciary is corrected using available legal means.
“For us, there is no looking back. We remain resolute and focused in our desire to bring development, progress and prosperity to our people, this is our Article of Faith and with God, we will triumph”, he said, promising to address a world press conference at the appropriate time.
APC foisting Ibrahim to rig election –Makarfi faction
The Makarfi PDP faction has however urged the Supreme Court to rise to the challenge before it by expeditiously resolving the dispute over the party’s candidature.
The group also cautioned the judiciary not to experiment with the destiny of the state by its handling of the case. The faction of the PDP in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Ayo Fadaka, said the issue on hand is about the destiny of a state and the person the people of the state want as their governor, warning that any attempt to truncate this wish will spell doom which the judiciary is in the position to avert now.
Reacting to the sudden adjournment, the party commended the Court of Appeal over what it described as its obvious commitment to the administration of justice in the matter by giving it expeditious hearing.
Appealing to the Supreme Court to equally rise to the occasion and dispense of the case in good time, the PDP said it notes with aghast the further prolongation of the pre election matter involving it, “based on the premature appeal by Jimoh Ibrahim and his band of fifth columnists to the Supreme Court”.
The party said it continued to be taken aback by the grandiose plan to stop it from contesting the election through the foisting of “this needless crisis on our party by elements within the corridors of power who are doing all possible to deny the people the right to choose from the myriad of choices available to them in the forthcoming governorship election.
“We have stated clearly that Jimoh Ibrahim is not in any manner a member of our party and the fact that he today parades himself as our flag bearer is through the contrived instrumentality of the court.”
Fadaka said the nation has descended again into the dark days of rape on democracy as the ruling APC has used its privilege advantage of controlling federal power to muscle democracy and also capriciously rape it mercilessly.

“This action is geared towards giving undue and unmerited advantage to the APC candidate in the election”, lamenting that it is most certainly not only ungentlemanly, but confirmed the fact that those atop of the nation’s commonwealth today are not statesmen.
“Jimoh Ibrahim is not our candidate, the fact that he is being foisted on our party is due to the fact that he is not electable as he remains a political albatross the people will not touch.
“The highest number of vote he can ever poll in any election in Ondo State cannot exceed 2,005 only, and this generally known fact is the reason characters in the APC are using him to destroy our party.”
“Posterity will certainly judge in this ugly development, a dangerous and desperate precedent has been set, the aim of course is to rig the APC to power in Ondo State.
“We also bring to the president’s attention that under him, institutional rape is the order of the day, we also wish to remind him that under the reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan, his immediate predecessor, there was respect for institutions, political desires and expressions.
“Mr. President is the leader of the entire nation and not for his Party, APC alone. He must ensure the health of the nation, even as we restate that Nigeria is a democracy and we will struggle to maintain that status”.
Court ruling in order, says Modu-Sheriff’s group
On the other hand, the Modu-Sheriff’s faction commended the three-man special appeal panel for adjourning the suit indefinitely. The faction in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Mr. Yemi Akintomide, said the adjournment “is a bold, moral and right action taken by the panel to adjourn sine die since the respondent in the suit, Prince Biyi Poroye, had approached the Supreme Court to challenge the leave given to Eyitayo Jegede to appeal the June 29 judgment delivered by Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court, Abuja which declared Prince Poroye as the authentic chairman of the PDP in Ondo State.”
Akintomide said the decision of the court “has renewed our hope and believe in the judiciary as the last hope of common man; and put to shame desperate politicians who before now, thought that they could bribe their way into the mentality and integrity of the judges.”
At the resumed proceedings yesterday, the three man panel led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa noted that the panel was served with a motion at about 7:30pm on Thursday alleging that the panel was in disobedience of the rule of lis pendens and stare decisis by going ahead to hear the appeal despite a pending motion at the Supreme Court.
The panel further held that the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa and the three members of the panel, namely, Justice Ibrahim Salauwa, Justice Igwe Agube and Justice Godwin Mbaba were joined as respondents in the motion.
“We recall that our panel was put in place on a rescue mission when Justice Sankeyled panel threw in the towel following the allegation of bias and bribery. We have come this far; we want to do what is most reasonable.
“With the situation of things now and going by the motion served on us, we have to await the decision of the Supreme Court on whether we are properly constituted or not.
The motion is most unfortunate but we have to do this. We have been guided, let the Supreme Court decide whether we have jurisdiction or not. “This appeal and all others stand adjourned sine dine to await the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court”.
In the motion filed before the Supreme Court, Sheriff faction is praying for an order invoking disciplinary jurisdiction of the court to set aside the proceedings of November 16, 2016 in of the special panel sitting in Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.
Oke: I was not arrested
Meanwhile, the Aketi Media Group of the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu Campaign Platform has commended the military for its professionalism and vigilance in the arrest of gunmen allegedly on the campaign trail of Oke.
The men were allegedly accosted by military men at a checkpoint in Okitipupa where pump action guns, machetes, and a digital camera were found on them. The men, who first claimed to be journalists but they had no means of identification.
They merely used the camera to disguise as journalists before the military men discovered the guns inside their vehicle. Director of Communications of the Akeredolu Campaign Platform, Mr Soji Alakuro, berated Oke for allegedly harbouring armed thugs to terrorise innocent citizens in order to precipitate violence before, during and after the election.
“Oke is a desperate politician seeking power at all costs by jumping from several political parties before berthing in AD to clinch the governorship ticket.
“It is baffling that after that political flirtation, he is not yet content with the civil manner of seeking power, but has gone ahead to recruit thugs to unleash violence on the citizens while seeking political power at all costs.
But the governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Olusola Oke, has denied being arrested, saying his rumoured arrest was devised by his detractors to score cheap political goals.
Oke accused the PDP of being the sponsor of the rumour, saying that the campaign of calumny peddled against him only made him more popular.
The governorship candidate who spoke through his media aide, Mr. Kolawole Olabisi, said he was not arrested at any time by any law enforcement agent, adding that he has since his formal declaration been moving round all parts of the state to solicit for support of the masses.
“As I talk to you now,Chief Olusola Oke is in Mahin in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State canvassing for the support of the people of the area in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.”
He said both the APC and the PDP in the state are intimidated by his rising popularity, hence their resolve to blackmail and other mischievous acts aimed at soiling his reputation.
“Oke is a responsible citizen of Nigeria and he has been moving round the state since he launched his campaign. He left Akure this morning for Ilaje Local Government and he had met with different people there.
“By the way, why would Oke be arrested when he did not commit any offence? He did not carry arms, neither did he carry ammunition. The rumour was the handiwork of his detractors whose aim was to soil the good reputation he has built over the years,” he added.
“The PDP resolved to peddle the rumour of Oke’s arrest and use the social media to circulate the rumour as a result of the court of the indefinite adjournment given by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The PDP led by Governor Olusegun Mimiko is afraid of Olusola Oke, especially with the court decision which did not favour them, hence the baseless rumour.”
Olabisi noted that the rumour was baseless and have no iota of truth, and therefore enjoined members of the public, especially residents of the state to discountenance it in its entirety.
“Oke is a free Nigerian and he will return to AKure to meet with his co- coordinator. This is to tell you that he was not arrested by any agency of government.”
Opinion poll tips Oke for victory
This is coming as an independent opinion poll conducted in the state has given victory to Oke, who was followed by the APC candidate and former Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
Third on the list is Jimoh Ibrahim of the PDP. In the poll, 37 per cent of respondents across the state said they would prefer Oke to succeed Governor Olusegun Mimiko while 22 per cent opted for Akeredolu. 16 percent of respondents went for Ibrahim, while 14 per cent were in favour of Dr. Olu Agunloye of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). 11per cent said they were either undecided or indifferent.
The questionnaires were designed around the aspirations of the four candidates considered to be leading contenders in the battle to succeed Mimiko.
Jegede’s name was replaced by that of Ibrahim based on the INEC’s list of candidates. In the opinion poll conducted across the three senatorial districts in the state -Ondo Central, Ondo North and Ondo South- a total of 3000 respondents, many of whom are registered voters in the state, were sampled. Their ages range from 25 to 55 years.
They were randomly picked across major towns in the three districts, with 1,400, the highest, coming from Ondo Central, which constitutes about 50 per cent of the voting population in the state.

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