Politics

Court rules on Lagos East Senatorial Bye-Election tussle, March 1

By Michael Ojo

A Federal High Court, Lagos, will on March 1, 2021 deliver judgment in respect of a suit on the bye-election for the Lagos East Senatorial District of December 5, 2020.

The PDP and its candidate in the poll, Babatunde Gbadamosi, are the first and second applicants, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Senator Tokunbo Abiru are the first to third defendants in the suit.

The PDP is pursing a claim that Mr Adetokunbo Abiru of the APC, was ineligible for the election on grounds relating to alleged double voter registration, indigene issues, and violation of Section 31 of the Electoral Act.

But Abiru, who won the election by a landslide, polling 89,204 votes against Gbadamosi’s 11,257 votes, objected, arguing that the plaintiff’s application is defective, and statute barred, through his counsel Mr Kemi Pinheiro, SAN.

Justice Chuka Obiozor fixed the date for judgement after the APC counsel, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, adopted his counter affidavit challenging the PDP’s originating summons seeking Abiru’s disqualification.

The applicants through their counsel Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, are seeking to disqualify Abiru as a candidate in the bye election.

But Pinheiro told Justice Chuka through Pinheiro that Gbadamosi’s suit was incompetent, defective, statute-barred, commenced via a wrong procedure, and ought to be struck out.

He contended that the case of the plaintiffs lacked merit as Abiru was duly nominated and qualified for the said bye-election. In particular, Abiru raised preliminary objections to the suit, contending that same was statute barred not justiciable in law.

Relying on his preliminary objection and rewritten address, Pinheiro observed that Gbadamosi’s Originating Summons was “incompetently and inelegantly drafted” and contained “ungrantable reliefs.”

He stated that the Plaintiff formulated nine issues which related to double registration and the indigeneship but that rather than argue the said issues, the Plaintiffs went on to argue two new different and distinct issues.

The Silk argued that the only thing left for the Court to do was to strike out the said Originating Summons for being defective.

As regard Gbadamosi’s allegations of crime against Abiru, the counsel stated that the suit was a civil action brought by originating summons and the court could not make a finding on an allegation of crime.

Pinheiro noted further that the Plaintiffs do not even have the fiat of the Attorney-General to prosecute any alleged offence.

He argued that the right to vote under section 66 was very narrow and that residence of the candidate does not fall under such.

Relying on INEC v. Atuma, he noted that the issue of residency does not disqualify a candidate from contesting an election.

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