The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja today reserved till Wednesday ruling on an application seeking to strike out or dismiss an appeal filed by Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abeokuta, delivered on the 27th of September, 2022, which sacked him and ordered a fresh governorship primary election.
Recall that over 370 delegate-members of the party had sued the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Adebutu over their disenfranchisement at the governorship primary election held on the 25th of May, 2022. They said if they had been allowed to cast their votes, they would have voted for Otunba Jimi Adebisi Lawal (JAL) and consequently prayed the trial court for an order nullifying the earlier exercise and ordering a fresh one.
At the beginning of proceedings today (this Monday), the court informed the parties that Adebutu’s appeal has now been allocated Appeal No. CA/IB/411A/2022.
Adebutu’s counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) informed the court that the appeal is a sister appeal to CA/IB/411/2022.
He drew the court’s attention to their application filed on the 26th of October, 2022 seeking a departure from the Rules of the court to allow Adebutu rely on the records compiled and transmitted in Appeal No. CA/IB/411/2022 by the PDP.
Uche proceeded to identify and move the said application.
In urging the court to grant the application, he submitted that the judgment appealed against in this appeal arose from the same judgment transmitted in CA/IB/411/2022.
The learned silk also urged the court to grant the application on the ground that the Respondents (Jimi Lawal & co) would lose nothing if leave is granted Adebutu to rely on the records compiled and transmitted in CA/IB/411/2022.
In response, counsel to Taiwo Olabode & co, Dr. Kemi Peinhero (SAN) informed the court that a counter-affidavit was filed in opposition to the Appellant’s application.
He submitted that the issue of Adebutu’s failure to transmit records in this appeal is a live issue in the 1st-3rd Respondents’ Notice of Preliminary Objection already incorporated in the Brief of Argument.
As a result, Peinhero urged the court to defer hearing on the application to a date when the substantive appeal would be heard.
Following the insistence of the court that the application be heard today, Peinhero identified the counter-affidavit filed on the 31st of October, 2022.
In urging the court to dismiss the application, the learned silk contended that pre-election matters are sui generis and must be conducted strictly within the rules guiding them.
He argued that the Appellant’s application cannot be granted as the Court of Appeal Elections Judicial Proceedings Practice Directions, 2022 does not permit an extension of time for compilation and transmission of records.
In demonstrating how incompetent Adebutu’s application is, Peinhero argued that the application to rely on the records of appeal in CA/IB/411/2022 was not brought within the 10 days period allowed by paragraph 9 of the Court of Appeal Elections Judicial Proceedings Practice Directions, 2022.
He further submitted that Adebutu never took steps to compile and transmit the records of appeal as there was no evidence before the court showing that he made an official payment for the compilation and transmission of the records of appeal.
Peinhero contended that the application is a cloak to avoid the consequence of the Practice Directions and having failed to do what he ought to have done within the time permitted by the Practice Directions, no indulgence ought to be granted by the Court.
He submitted that the appeal had no basis as the Adebutu had already jumped the gun by filing his Brief of Argument prior to the application.
Counsel to Otunba Jimi Adebisi Lawal, Deji Enisehin informed the court that although they were not served with the Adebutu’s application, he aligned himself with Peinhero’s submissions in opposition to the said application.
The three-man panel of justices, comprising Hon. Justice Moore Adumein, Hon. Justice Folashade Ojo and Hon. Justice Yargata Nimpar, adjourned to Wednesday,16th of November, 2022, for ruling.