The Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has fixed July 1 to rule on the preliminary objection filed by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, against the petition challenging his victory at the April 11, 2015 governorship poll in Lagos.
Mr. Jimi Agbaje, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, had approached the tribunal seeking an order upturning Ambode’s victory for alleged irregularities.
Agbaje and the PDP have accused Ambode and his party, the All Progressives Congress, of breaching the guidelines set out by the Independent Electoral Commission for the conduct of the election.
But Ambode and the APC, in a consolidated preliminary notice of objection filed through their counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Dr. Muiz Banire, have urged the three-man tribunal led by Justice Muhammad Sirajo to dismiss the petitioners’ case.
While canvassing argument in support of the objection at the Friday’s hearing, Olanipekun insisted that petition filed by Agbaje and the PDP was incompetent, saying there was nothing in the petitioners’s papers directly challenging his client’s victory in the April 11 poll.
Olanipekun, who urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitioners’ case, said the reliefs they were seeking conflicted with Section 285(2) of the constitution.
He said, “I submit that there is no petition before Your Lordships known to law.
“The grounds and particulars in the petition are at opposites with the facts and reliefs being sought within the purview of Section 285(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
“There are no grounds challenging the election of my client under Section 138(b)(c) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
“I urge my Lordships to dismiss the petition.”
Banire, in his own argument, described the petition by Agbaje and PDP as “groundless” and one that should be struck out.
“This is a groundless petition, there is no petition before Your Lordships.
“I pray that the purported document before Your Lordships be struck out,” Banire said.
However, counsel for Agbaje, Mr. Clement Onwuenwunor, maintained that the petition was competent and that the issues for determination by the tribunal had been carefully spelt out.
Onwuenwunor said the objection filed by Ambode and the APC was merely relying on technicalities rather than the ingredient of the case.
He said, “Paragraph 13(a) and (b) of our petition questioned the election in Lagos State on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and irregularities such as in the use of the card readers.
“We have looked at their preliminary objections in this case and have concluded that they are objections made on mere technicalities.”
Onwuenwunor urged the tribunal to dismiss the consolidated notice of preliminary objection and to award “substantial costs” against the respondents.
The court, after entertaining arguments from both sides, adjourned till July 1, 2015 for ruling.