The legal battle for Bayelsa State’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket shifted to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, yesterday.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, adjourned hearing indefinitely in the suit filed by Governor Timipre Sylva after he was informed that the PDP had filed an appeal to challenge his November 15 order.
Justice Kolawole had warned the PDP against going ahead with last Saturday’s primary election which took place last Saturday.
He granted the order following an exparte application filed on Sylva’s behalf by his counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).
Sylva is challenging his disqualification as an aspirant from the party’s primary election, which was won by Chief Seriake Dickson.
The Judge warned that he would not hesitate to nullify any step taken by the PDP in defiance of his order, once the defendants are served the order and the originating summons.
He gave the defendants 72 hours to show cause why all the releifs sought by Sylva should not be granted and adjourned till November 22 for hearing.
The defendants are the PDP, its Acting National Chairman, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But the party still went ahead to conduct the primary.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, Fagbemi (SAN), who appeared with Mr. Femi Falana in a bid to stave plots to delay the hearing, did not oppose the application for stay of proceedings.
Although he was served at the open court, Fagbemi told the court that he had no objection to the motion, urging Justice Kolawole to grant it.
His words: “Ten minutes before you sat, we were served with a number of processes by the 2nd defendant (PDP). My lord, the processes include record of proceedings from this court, containing some processes in this case, including a ruling they (PDP) said they are not aware of. They also filed in the Court of Appeal a stay of proceedings dated 21st November, 2011 and a Notice of Appeal dated same day. The path of law and honour is that since this matter having been entered at the Court of Appeal and with the motion for stay pending, the battle ground shifts to the Court of Appeal. So, we pray your lordship to allow the matter, move to your senior brothers. But let me note that it is interesting the speed at which the PDP got the Certified True Copy of the proceedings and the speed with which the PDP travelled to the Court of Appeal. I hope they will use the same speed to pursue their appeal. It is the only path of honour which we have taken and hope they will also take, instead of denying service as they had done earlier.”
The respondents’ counsel praised Fagbemi for his position.
Justice Kolawole described Fagbemi as a worthy role model.
His words: “We have young lawyers, law students and some secondary students who say they want to be lawyers and, therefore, came here on excursion to see how the court proceedings are done. I am happy that they have seen some of the finest ethics of the profession on display today. I thank all counsel, especially L.O Fagbemi, for his candour and noble practice.”