Tuesday, June 23, 2020 11:30 pm
Adejoke Adeleye, Abeokuta
A suit bordering on the leadership tussle in the Ogun State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suffered another setback on Monday due to the absence of the presiding judge, Justice Abubakar Shittu.
Chief Adebayo Dayo and Barr. Bimbo Lanre-Balogun are the plaintiffs in the suit, while the PDP, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Semiu Sodipo are joined as defendants.
The suit was continuation of the crisis which has polarized the Ogun PDP into rival factions loyal led by Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu respectively.
But the PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Elder Yemi Akinwonmi whose exco is recognised by the national leadership of the party had petitioned the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking for the reassignment of the case over bribery allegation against Justice Shittu.
The Judge had subsequently indicated that he will withdraw from further presiding over the case over the bribery allegation.
But surprisingly, the parties to the suit got a notice for the commencement of hearing and were in court on Monday only to be told that the Judge was indisposed.
Lawyers to the two parties, Barrister Muyiwa Obanewa, counsel to defendants, and Barrister Ifeoma Eson, Counsel to Plaintiff alongside their partners were surprised when the Registrar of the Court announced that the Judge would not be available to sit on the case.
This prompted dispersal of the legal teams as well as supporters of Hon. Adebutu who all went home disappointed, while the hearing has been adjourned till July 7th, 2020.
In an interview with journalists, Counsel to the defendants, Barr. Obanewa, expressed his disappointment over the development, noting that he was surprised to have heard about the case coming up again in Abeokuta having been told earlier that it would come up in Abuja.
He stated: “We were told that the judge is indisposed and for that reason the court will not seat today, so they have adjourned the matter till 7th of July.
“Let me give you a little bit background, on the 9th of June, we came before this judge and on his own, judge himself said he was going to repeat himself on this matter and adjourned or took all the files to the Chief Judge in Abuja for him to reassign to another judge in Abuja, that was on the 9th of June, and we thought that our next place on this matter would be in Abuja.
“Surprisingly, on the 17th of June, I got a hearing notice asking us to come to court today. In fact, I was so baffled I did not accept hearing that notice, because this is a matter that have been transferred to Abuja and the file is still here, and we are now ask to come back to this same court.
“Then we believe strongly that there must be something wrong. I came because I wanted to appear and protest today, to tell the Judge that I am not supposed to be here. The file is no longer supposed to be here. The court has been moved to Abuja. Now the court did not seat. So we will wait till the 7th of July. We have to wait and see what is happening by that day.”
But counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister Isioma Eson said: “The court is not indisposed to the case, the information we received from the Registrar of the court is that the judge is indisposed and is unable to seat. That is not peculiar to our case. It affects all the cases and there is nothing we can do than to take an adjournment for the matter to be held on another day, which is on July 7th, 2020.”