Lagos East: Court dismisses PDP’s case against APC, Senator Abiru

By Lukman Olabiyi

{SUN} Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday dismissed the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)’s suit seeking to disqualify Senator Adetokunbo Abiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from continuing to represent Lagos East Senatorial District.

Justice Obiozor, in a five-hour judgment, upheld among others, Abiru’s argument through his counsel Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, that the PDP’s case was statute barred, having not been brought within 14 days as contemplated under Section 285 of the Constitution.
Abiru won the last December 5 senatorial by-election by a landslide, polling 89,204 votes against the PDP’s Ademola Gbadamosi, who polled 11,257 votes. The APC chieftain has since been sworn into office.
But in the suit, his eligibility to contest was challenged by the PDP and Gbadamosi, who were first and second plaintiffs, respectively.

The challengers sought to disqualify Abiru on the ground of double voter registration and violation of section 31 of the Electoral Act.

But in its judgment yesterday, the court agreed with Pinheiro and APC’s counsel Abiodun Owonikoko SAN that the issue of residency and indigineship are not disqualifying factors under the constitution. Consequently, the reliefs sought by the Plaintiffs predicated upon this allegation were dismissed.

On the issue of registration or double registration, the court held that registration is not a disqualifying factor under Section 65 and 66 of the constitution. Thus, the allegations of double registration cannot disqualify the 2nd Defendant and the reliefs sought thereon were dismissed. In all, the court found that there was no merit in the case of the Plaintiffs (PDP and Gbadamosi ) and same was dismissed for being unmeritorious.

Justice Obiozor held: “I hold that nomination and sponsorship of a candidate for elective office is within the domain of a political party; it is an aspirant within the political party that can complain and not anybody from another party.”

On the issue of nomination, Justice Obiozor noted that the PDP and Gbadamosi “erroneously thought that the cause of action accrued on September 17, 2020 when the INEC published the final list of successful successful candidates election.

“I agreed with the counsel to 2nd defendant, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, that the cause of action accrued on the 13th when the name was submitted against the erroneous argument of the plaintiff by it counsel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, that the cause of action accrued on the 17th when the INEC rolled out the name of all the successful candidates.

“The plaintiff also alleged double registration which cannot be the basis for disqualifying a candidate going by principle in Agi vs PDP. This issue is also resolved in favour of the defendant against the Plaintiff. I hold that this suit lacks merit and same is hereby dismissed.”

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