The Supreme Court yesterday declined jurisdiction over two appeals by the national leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against the Senator Buruji Kashamu backed leadership of the party in Ogun State.
The appeals marked: SC/968/2018 (PDP v. Eng Adebayo Dayo & 4 others) and SC/1203/2018 (PDP v. Pegba Otemolu and 3ors, were struck out by a five-man panel of the court led by Musa Datijo Muhammad.
The court said the appeals, being pre-election related were incompetent because they were not filed within the 14 days allowed under Section 285(9) of the Constitution, others referred to as the 4th Alteration Act.
Justice Muhammad said the court no longer possessed the necessary jurisdiction to hear the appeal because it has become statute barred, lifeless and worthless, having been caught by the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution.
PDP in the appeal had challenged the judgment of Justice Buba Ibrahim of the Federal High Court and upheld by the Court of Appeal which conferred recognition on the Dayo Adebayo led Executive Committee of the party in Ogun State as the authentic leadership.
At the resumed hearing in the first appeal, the court asked the appellant’s lawyer Emeka Etiaba (SAN) whether the case was a pre-election matter to which he answered in the negative.
He said the appeal was about the leadership of the PDP in Ogun State and was not election related.
The lawyer to the respondents, Alex Izinyon (SAN), insisted that it was a pre-election matter because it relates to the candidate nomination for the next general election.
Izinyon drew the court’s attention to ground 8 of the application filed on December 14, 2018 by the appellant for accelerated hearing of the appeal, where the appellant said the subject of the matter is to determine who are the rightful candidates of the appellant in Ogun State.
He also referred to paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 of the affidavit supporting the application where the appellant also said that the matter is about the determination of which of the two set of candidates that emanated from the two executive of the party should Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should accept.
He also had informed the court that the appeal has become a mere academic exercise because it has been caught by the 4th Alteration Act which requires the filing of a pre-election suit within 14 days.
The court agreed with Izinyon and held that the case was a pre-election matter, on which the court no longer has jurisdiction in view of the effect of the 4th Alteration Act.\
Although Etiaba made spirited effort to sway the court to his side with argument that the suit was not a pre-election matter, the Supreme Court refused to accept his argument.
He eventually agreed with the court position and withdrew the appeal.
Justice Muhammad, in his ruling agreed with Izinyon that the appeal has become statute barred and lifeless, He consequently struck it out.
The same fate befell the second appeal when it was called later.