The Supreme Court has struck out an appeal by members of the Ishola Balogun Fulani-led sacked executive of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State.
The Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour led a five-man panel of the Supreme Court, held in a unanimous ruling that the appeal was without merit.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who delivered the lead ruling, noted that the appeal was caught up by Section 285 (9) of the 1999 constitution 4th alteration Act and therefore statute barred.
He added that being on an interlocutory decision of a High Court in Ilorin, the record ought to be compiled and transmitted within 14 days, as required under Order 7 of the Supreme Court’s Rules.
Justice Ariwoola held that the appellants, having failed to comply with the court’s rules when they transmitted the record of appeal outside the 14-day period, the appeal became incompetent.
“The appeal is adjudged to be lacking in merit. It is struck out for being incompetent,” Justice Ariwoola said.
Other members of the panel: Justice Rhodes-Vivour, Mary Odili, Centus Nweze and Amina Augie agreed with the lead ruling.
The national leadership of the APC, led by Adams Oshiomhole had last year, sacked the Fulani-led exco, following the defection of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, from the party to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and constituted a caretaker committee, led by Bashir Bolarinwa, a decision members of the sacked exco challenged before the High Court in Kwara State.
In its judgment, a High Court in Kwara State held in favour of the sacked Fulani-led exco, a decision that was later reversed by the Court of Appeal in Ilorin, prompting the appeal to the Supreme Court.
At the mention of the case on Wednesday, appellants’ lawyer, Yusuf Ali (SAN) argued an application, in which he sought that the appeal be set down for hearing and that it be heard solely on the appellant’s brief of argument.
Ali argued that the appeal was a pre-election one and that, since the respondents failed to file their briefs within the time, the court could do away with the respondents’ brief.
He also faulted the challenge to the court’s jurisdiction and the competence of the appeal raised in the respondents’ counter-affidavits.
Ali argued that the objections by the respondents at that stage in the case, were not properly raised.
He noted that one of the respondents’ lawyer, Akin Olujinmi (SAN) having earlier agreed, at the lower courts, that the case was pre-election in nature, he could not argue otherwise at the Supreme Court.
Olujinmi, in a counter argument, said he was contended the case was not a pre-election one.
He read from the reliefs sought by the appellants and argued that there was no part of the processes filed, where the appellants complained about the outcome of a primary, which they want set aside.
On Ali’s claim that he had conceded that it was a pre-election matter, Olujinmi said: “Even if I conceded by virtue of misconception of the law, that does not replace the definition of a pre-election matter in the Electoral Act.
“The appeal in which they said I made the concession is in a different appeal, not this one.”
He urged the court to either dismiss or strike out the appeal.
Other respondent lawyers, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Pamela Oladipupo aligned themselves wth Olujinmi’s argument.
In addition, Fagbemi added that the appellants’ application was hinged on many wrong assumptions; the first being their false categorisation of the nature of the case as a pre-election matter.
The second, Fagbemi said, was the assumption that there was a valid appeal.
He noted that the judgment that was appealed against arose as a result of an interlocutory ruling of the High Court.
Fagbemi noted that the appellants transmitted the record of appeal to the Supreme Court on March 4, while the notice of appeal was filed on February 14.
He argued that the appellants had breached Order 7 of the Supreme Court’s Rules, because “the period between when this notice of appeal was filed on Feb 14 and March 4, when this record got to this court was more than 14 days; it was about 18 days.
“The appeal is infested. It is either struck out or dismissed,” Fagbemi said.