Justice Okon Abang’s ruling on the PDP crisis in relation to Ondo was a complete “fraud”, the Court of Appeal said on Wednesday, annulling the judgement.
The Appeal Court nullified the ruling of Mr. Abang’s Federal High Court on October 14 which recognised businessman Jimoh Ibrahim as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the November 26 election.
A three-member panel of Appeal Court judges led by Ibrahim Salauwa said the judgement delivered on October 14 was as fraudulent as it was violent.
“The entire ruling of the 14th of October is a nullity. It is hereby set aside. Everything that was done at the lower court is a fraud,” the court said.
The court also described the June 29 judgement which gave rise to the October 14 ruling, as a gross abuse of Ahmed Makarfi’s right to fair hearing.
“It is a gross abuse of section 36 (1) of the constitution, particularly the right to fair hearing,” the court said.
“We set aside the highly misplaced; most fraudulent judgement on June 29,” it added.
The June 29 judgement delivered at the lower court led to the recognition of businessman Jimoh Ibrahim as the authentic candidate for the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State.
The court, presided by Mr. Abang, had on June 29 declared Ali Sheriff as the authentic PDP chairman after deciding that the group led by Ahmed Makarfi was a product of impunity.
Mr. Abang ordered Nigeria’s election umpire, INEC, to recognise only the faction endorsed by his court – the Sheriff faction
Consequently in October, Mr. Abang nullified the nomination of Eyitayo Jegede from the faction led by Mr. Makarfi and ordered INEC to recognise businessman Jimoh Ibrahim, from Mr. Sheriff’s camp, as the PDP candidate for Saturday’s election.
Messrs. Makarfi and Jegede approached the appellate court to contest Mr. Abang’s ruling.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal agreed with the two men and cancelled the rulings by Mr. Abang.
Wednesday’s Court of Appeal’s judgement not only makes Mr. Jegede the authentic candidate of the PDP for Saturday’s election, it also authenticates Mr. Makarfi’s leadership of the PDP, Nigeria’s largest opposition party.
The ruling is not the first time the Appeal Court will attack Mr. Abang.
The appellate court had in August rebuked the controversial judge while delivering a counter judgement regarding the Abia State governorship seat.
The court, then, described Mr. Abang’s previous judgement on the matter as an assault on democracy.