Lawyer, Judge Exchange Words As Court Sacks Ekiti PDP Exco Loyal To Fayose
Less than a week after he emerged Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum Chairman, Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose has lost the grip of the party machinery at the state level, leaving his succession plan in jeopardy.
The Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti yesterday sacked the PDP executive loyal to Fayose, which is led by former Commissioner for Information Gboyega Oguntuase and gave a legal recognition to the executive led by Williams Sunday Ajayi.
The Ajayi faction is backed by Senator Buruji Kashamu and is loyal to factional PDP National Chairman Ali Modu Sheriff, which set out the guidelines for the conduct of ward, local government and state congresses at the time the suit was filed.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo gave an order recognising the executive led by Ajayi as valid and authentic to oversee the business of running the PDP in Ekiti State based on evidence before the court.
The judge also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise the Ajayi-led exco, holding that the electoral agency should only deal with Ajayi and his exco as validly constituted in line with the Electoral Act and the PDP constitution.
The court granted Reliefs 2, 3 and 5 in favour of Ajayi and his secretary, Ilesanmi Obe, who are the plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/AD/CS/21/2015.
The defendants are INEC, PDP, Sheriff, Wale Oladipo and Oguntuase.
It held that any averments not controverted by is deemed to be admitted as processes before him was to the effect that Sheriff and Oladipo were national chairman and national secretary respectively since the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants did not oppose or challenge averments in the Originating Summons, the court can admit the averments as true if not challenged.
The court ruled that in as much as Sheriff as the National Chairman and Oladipo as the National Secretary at the time the suit was filed had the backing of the Electoral Act and the PDP constitution to set guidelines for the congresses, the congress conducted by was valid.
The court also held that all documents attached to the Originating Summons remained uncontroverted while the 5th defendant (Oguntuase) filed no counter-affidavit stressing that: “documentary evidence filed in court is more reliable and credible than oral evidence.”
The court held that the 1st defendant (INEC) did not present any document before it on whose authority it supervised the congress held at Adetiloye Hall which produced Oguntuase.
Oguntuase’s counsel, Bimpe Olatemiju, made a spirited effort to arrest the judgment citing an application filed at the Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti Division, to stay proceedings on an earlier ruling of the court delivered on December 12, 2016 which was rebuffed by Justice Taiwo.
Olatemiju also told informed the court of a letter from a Senior Advocate, Chief Mike Ozekhome, dated January 19, 2017 to the effect that parties in the suit have appeared before the Court of Appeal on January 18 on the pending motion at the appellate court.
He argued that the court should wait till February 1, 2017 when the application of his clients will be argued at Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Niran Owoseni, urged the court to discountenance the legality of Ozekhome’s letter which was served on him (Owoseni) earlier in the day.
Owoseni argued that parties in the suit at the Federal High Court are different from parties at the Appeal Court and that the subject matter in the case at the lower court was different from the subject matter at the appellate court.
Taiwo frowned at attempts by Olatemiju to arrest the judgment asking all counsels leading to verbals exchanges between the duo for several minutes.
The judge went into his chambers at 1.20 pm to write a ruling. He emerged from his chambers at 2.23 pm to deliver the ruling in which he dismissed the submissions of Olatemiju.
Taiwo in his ruling held that Ozekhome’s letter should not be elevated to the pedestal of Motion on Notice saying: “I do not see how I can be convinced that the letter should not be discountenanced as motion for stay dated 17th January 2017 was not filed by him and motion on appeal was not filed by him.”
He held that counsel to the 5th defendant (Olatemiju) was not ready to move the pending application adding that the court will not embark on speculation or conjecture stressing that the purpose was to arrest the judgment the court was ready to deliver.
Apparently miffed by Justice Taiwo’s determination to proceed with the judgment, Olatemiju signified his intent to leave the courtroom but was overruled by the judge who threatened to report the lawyer to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Disciplinary Committee
The judge thereafter proceeded with the judgment in which he held: “ A political party must operate within certain guidelines and when there is a crisis of this nature in a party, we use the party’s constitution and the 1999 constitution to remedy the constitution.
“It is not in dispute that 2,3,4,5 respondents were jointly represented, and not in dispute that 2 and 3 are members of the PDP . It is not also in dispute that 3rd and 4th respondents were still acting as the chairman and National Secretary.
“So, going by the PDP’s guidelines, the power to conduct congresses at the wards, local governments and state levels can only be directed by NWC and since these people were still in charge at that time, any other directive or parallel congress by any other body is null and void.”
PDP members loyal to Ajayi celebrated the judgment within the court premises praising the Judiciary for “being on the side of the truth.”
Ajayi said: “We salute the court for this very brilliant judgment which has further confirmed the Judiciary as the last hope of the common man. The court has done justice to PDP members who elected my executive at the valid congress conducted.
“This judgment has put an end to impunity in Ekiti by interlopers and this verdict has has restored sanity to our party. The party is now focused to conduct its businesses and bring back many of our members and leaders who had left when the impunity was reigning
Oguntuase said: “We will appeal the judgment. I plead with all the PDP members in the state to remain calm. In that judgement, I saw humour and I didn’t see honour and candour.
“How will you call yourself a Chairman when the governor is not behind you, when all the National Assembly members and state assembly lawmakers are not behind you? So, this is not the last court.”