By Martins Odeh
Abuja – The Supreme Court on Thursday fixed May 4 to hear a motion filed to strike out the notice of appeal challenging the restoration of Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff as PDP National Chairman.
Sen. Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee of the party had approached the court to appeal against the Feb.17 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt which restored Sheriff.
The presiding Judge, Justice Tanko Muhammad led four other justices of the court to announce the date.
“The motion filed asking for the striking out of the main appeal filed by Fabgbemi on March 21 and similar motion filed on March 16 by Chief Olujimi shall be heard on May 4,’’ he held.
At the resumption of the session, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), counsel for the Sheriff-led PDP informed the court of PDP’s pending motion seeking to withdraw the pending appeal.
Fagbemi said the purported appeal brought against the National Chairman of the party did not emanate from PDP.
He said the appeal with number SC.133/2017, was filed on Feb.27 in the name of the PDP by the Makarfi-led caretaker committee to challenge the judgment of the Port Harcourt court of appeal.
Fabgemi argued that the motion should be given the priority of being heard first.
Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), counsel for Sheriff and the National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, aligned himself with the submission advanced by Fagbami.
He also said he filed a similar motion before the court at the instruction of his clients.
“In their motion for discontinuance of the appeal before the court, Sheriff and his National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, argued, among others, that no ground of law supported the appeal.
“My Lords, the motion was dated and filed on March 16. At this point, we are urging the court to avail us a date for the hearing of the application,’’ he said.
Also, the court abridged time and granted 21 days for both Sheriff and Oladipo to file their respondents’ brief to the main appeal.
Muhammad’s order was sequel to a motion for the abridgement of time and departure from the court’s rule filed by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), counsel for Makarfi-led PDP.
The motion was brought pursuant to Order 2 Rules 31 of the Supreme Court Rules and accompanied with 12 paragraph depositions.
Agabi said his clients had transmitted a notice of appeal resulting from the Feb. 17 judgment of the Port Harcourt division of the court of appeal to the apex court.
“We are invoking your jurisdiction under appropriate rules of the court to ask My Lords to abridged time within which our appeal can be heard,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Fagbemi, counsel for the Sheriff-led PDP was not affected by this order as he failed to recognise the validity of the application.
“My Lords, I have already filed a motion urging the court to strike out the appeal, so I do not accept that the motion requires our response,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court largely set aside the first session of the case to properly situate all the processes and to ensure all parties were served.
NAN further reports that other respondents in the appeal are the State Security Service (SSS), Inspector-General of Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The SSS and IGP , however, were not represented in court even though the record of proof of service showed that they were duly served.
Mr Nelson Ani, counsel for INEC said the commission was not prepared to file a brief, adding that the commission was not ready to join issues with the parties.
NAN reports that no date was fixed for the hearing of the main appeal yet.