A three-man Appeal Court panel, on Wednesday set aside the October 14, 2016, ruling by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court that ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Jimoh Ibrahim as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Saturday’s Ondo State governorship election instead of Eyitayo Jegede.
While Jegede is of the Ahmed Makarfi PDP faction, produced at the end of a primary election in Akure, the state capital, Ibrahim is of the Ali Modu-Sheriff faction and emerged from the primary held in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, which the court as a sham according to constitutional provisions.
Also, while INEC observed the Makarfi faction’s primary, it was not represented in the Ibadan event, but was compelled by Justice Abang’s ruling to the chagrin of members of the PDP, who argued that Jimoh is unknown to the party in the state to which belongs outgoing Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
Ruling on the appeal CA/ A/551C/2016, the Appeal Court Justices: Salauwa, Aguba and Mbaba resolved all seven issues raised by Wole Olanipekun SAN counsel to Eyitayo Jegede, in the appeal in favor of Jegede.
The Court agreed with Olanipekun that “It’s a misnomer for Jimoh to have benefited from Abang ruling as he’s not a party to the suit.”
The court also said Justice Abang erred, because he had no jurisdiction to order INEC to publish Jimoh’s name as PDP candidate, but displayed “violent attitudinal disposition,” adding that the principle of natural justice demands that all sides be given fair hearing.
Dignitaries at the court included AbdulWalid Jubril, chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees; Makarfi, chairman of the party’s National Caretaker Committee; Prof Jerry Gana, a member of the PDP BoT; Emeka Ihedioha, former Deputy Speaker od the House of Representatives; and Jegede. Former PDP governors at the court session were: Ramalan Yero, Kaduna; Jonah Jang, Plateau; Sule Lamido, Jigawa; Ibrahim Shekarau, Kano; and Mukhtar Shagari, former deputy governor of Sokoto.
The Appeal Court ruling is expected to alter the outcome of an opinio poll the result of which was released by NOI Polls Limited, indicating voter apathy and the possibility of protest votes.
According to a statement, while 29% of the voters were undecided, 24% say they will vote for Rotimi Akeredolu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), while 23% are routing for Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy.
The poll was conducted in the week beginning November 14, 2016 to measure the level of preparedness of Ondo State residents for Saturday’s election also shows that a clear winner will be determined by how many of the undecided voters change their stance before the election proper. It also shows that the election remains open to any of the other candidates, should they succeed in swaying the undecided voters.