22nd February, 2011
A desperate campaign mounted by Ogun state Peoples Democratic Partyâ€™s executives loyal to Governor Gbenga Daniel, to vacate a court order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognizing its list of candidates for the forth coming general elections suffered a set back on Tuesday.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja was unable to decide whether to hear their application for the setting aside of the order or to hear an application filed by Obasanjo’s group seeking for their committal to prison for holding the court in contempt.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s faction of the party in the state, whose list of candidates is being recognized by the electoral body had filed an application seeking to commit the Governor Gbenga Daniels factionâ€™s executive to prison over a purported allegation that the faction derided the court as a kangaroo court over the interim order granted by the court against INEC. The order led to the recognition by INEC of the candidates nominated by Obasanjoâ€™s faction. candidates list by the electoral body.
.At the resumed hearing on the matter, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, a senior advocate of Nigeria representing the Party, pleaded with the court to hear their application which seeks for the vacation of the interim restraining order to enable the court hear the substantive motion with a view to reaching a decision on which factionâ€™s list should be recognized by the electoral umpire.
He reminded the court that the last date for the substitution of candidates as specified in the INEC released time table is Monday, 28th February and pleaded with the court to consider the urgency of the matter. He drew the attention of the court to two pending applications filed before the court by his client challenging the jurisdiction of the court in granting the interim restraining order which it granted on the 8th of February.
.The Obasanjo group represented by Chief Olagoke Fakunle, also a senior advocate of Nigeria, on their part prayed the court to give the hearing of their contempt proceedings priority over Governor Gbenga Danielâ€™s groupâ€™s application since contempt proceeding is criminal in nature and should ordinarily be dealt with before any other thing.
Mr. Fakunle told the court to ignore submissions made by counsel to the Gbenga Danielâ€™s group and to hear their own application seeking to commit the Joju Fadairo led executive to prison.
Justice Abdu Kafarati, the presiding judge subsequently adjourned to Monday 28th February, to rule on whose application to take first.
A member of the former Presidentâ€™s faction, Mr. Segun Alawode, who stepped aside for the Speaker of the House of Representatives in a controversial manner, alongside other supporters who thronged the court to witness the proceedings expressed their delight over the recognition which their faction enjoys from the electoral umpire.
According to Mr. Alawode, the list of their faction which had the name of General Olurin as the party’s flag bearer for the gubernatorial election in the state as well as other contestants remain the valid list of candidates that will contest the forth coming election.
By Nnamdi Felix/Abuja