The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Modu Sheriff-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the upcoming Ondo State gubernatorial election, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, is right, frontline lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has said.
INEC last Thursday endorsed Ibrahim’s candidature after an Abuja High Court declared him as the authentic PDP candidate.
The electoral umpire had earlier recognised the candidate of Markafi-led faction of the party, Eyitayo Jegede.
“INEC has merely obeyed a court order,” he Falana said. “INEC has obeyed an order of a court pursuant to a valid and subsisting judgement. You want INEC to disregard the judgement?”
He said it was wrong of the Markafi-led PDP to seek a restraining order from another court of equal status.
He said, “Once there’s an order, you can only go and set aside the existing one. You can’t go and start another one. That’s what causes conflicting court order.
“You can’t go and initiate a process that will set one court in collision with another. It’s primitive.
It’s not done in any civilised society.
“If there’s a judgement against you, you go to that same court to set it aside. You don’t go and file a fresh action in another court, and thereby set the courts on collision course, which may result to conflicting court orders.”
He said since the Markafi faction had appealed the judgement, it should have waited for the outcome of the party.
“There’s an appeal against the judgement of Abuja court. No other person can go to another court, a lower court, to set aside the judgement of a court of coordinate jurisdiction. It’s not done.
“And I don’t blame the judges, like the judge in Akure, because nothing happened to those who gave conflicting orders in the PDP leadership crisis the other day. That’s why this mess is continuing.”
He urged Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State to discourage his supporters from engaging in protests because he was he became a governor after a court pronouncement.
He added, “You can’t take any step that will subvert the rule of law. What do they expect INEC to do? To disregard the order of a court because of sentiment and rely on expataint order? No responsible organisation does that.”
Festus Keyamo also supported the position of Falana on INEC’s choice, insisting the election umpire followed the law.
“There are conflicting orders.” He said. “There’s no amount of emotion or protests that can change that. It’s a purely legal matter.
“It doesn’t matter the presence of a political group. There are two conflicting orders. INEC is in complete order to effect any of the orders until the Supreme Court decides.”