Ondo Poll: Angry Supreme Court awards N3m cost against Poroye’s counsel, gives Appeal Court mandate to determine PDP candidate; INEC says no going back on poll
The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to dissolve the three-man Special Panel constituted by President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to resolve the case of who the guber candidate of the PDP in Ondo State November 26 election is. Instead the apex court, in a unanimous ruling by a five-man panel of Justices led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, gave the nod to the Appeal Court to determine the matter before it by Thursday this week.
However, in dismissing the motions for stay of proceedings of the appellate court, filed by six members of the PDP in the South West led by Chairman of the party in Ondo State, Prince Biyi Poroye, the Supreme Court in a mild show of anger against abuse of court process awarded a cost of N1million each to the three Justices of the appellate court who were joined in the matter by a faction of the PDP.
Poroye and his group had joined the three appellate court Justices, Igwe Aguba, salauwa and George Mbaba, as 5th to 7th respondents in their appeal at the apex court.
The Acting CJN, Justice Onnoghen who delivered the lead ruling, ordered that counsel to the appellants, Chief Beluolisa Nwufor, SAN, pay the cost from his personal pocket.
Meantime, INEC has said there was no going back in the election in view of the judgment and strident calls by some parties for the election to be postponed.
Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, told Political Economist that the electoral body would not shift the poll.
The apex court further ordered the appellants to pay N500, 000 cost to the four other Respondents in the matter among including a contender for the PDP governorship ticket, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN.
Justice Onnoghen held that it was wrong for Poroye and his group to drag the appellate court Justices into the matter knowing that they were only carrying out a judicial duty that was duly assigned to them.
“The 6th to 7th Respondents who are Justices of the Court of Appeal were constituted by appropriate authority to hear and determine the case were not parties before the lower court and whatever they did was in their official capacity as judicial officers”, Justice Onnoghen said.
He dismissed the antics of the appellants as pranks, stressing that joining them as Respondents in the matter “was not only an attempt to intimidate and scandalise the judiciary, but to put it in a mild way, an action in bad faith”.
“If the applicants are allowed to continue with this prank, there will be no end in sight and it will not augur well. In the circumstance, there is no merit in this appeal and it is hereby dismissed”.