IT WAS victory for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos as the Lagos State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Ikeja on Wednesday, July 1, struck out the petition filed by Jimi Agabje, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Ambode, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was adjudged winner of the election by the three-man panel headed by Justice Muhammad Surajo. The tribunal dismissed Agbaje’s petition on the grounds of incompetence.
Agbaje had petitioned the tribunal to contest the declaration of Ambode by the Independent National Election Commission, INEC, as the winner of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in the state. He had alleged that the said election was marred by irregularities, which he said breached the provisions of the INEC approved guidelines for the polls.
Other respondents in the suit were the INEC and Lagos State resident electoral commissioner.
Wole Olanipekun, SAN and Muiz Banire, counsels to Ambode and the APC had in a preliminary objection asked the tribunal to dismiss Agbaje’s petition on the ground of incompetence.
Olanipekun argued that there was correlation between the reliefs being sought by the petitioner and the particulars of application on one hand and the grounds for questioning the election on the other hand.
According to him, there was nowhere in the pleadings where the petitioners rejected the victory of the respondents or questioned the conduct of the election.
Banire, counsel to the APC aligned with the submissions of Olanipekun, submitting that Agbaje’s petition had no ground and, therefore, should be struck out.
Ruling on the preliminary objection on Wednesday, Justice Surajo held that the petition was incompetent, noting that the petitioner, Agbaje, did not ask for a fresh election despite asking the court to nullify the election.
“In the instant petition, apart from seeking an order nullifying the election of the second respondent, the petitioner did not ask for an order of fresh election. So, if for instance, the election is nullified, the people of Lagos State would be left in an anarchy situation as no order can validly be made for the conduct of fresh election, same having not been sought for,” the judge said.
He added: “In the final analysis, and in consideration of our foregoing decisions on all the issues raised in this application, we hold that the application has merit and is hereby granted as prayed. This petition is struck out for being incompetent. ”
Responding to the ruling, Ambode said it was a reaffirmation of the mandate given to him by the people of Lagos State. “I am elated at the ruling of the tribunal, which is an affirmation of my victory at the polls.
On April 11, 2015, the people of Lagos spoke with their votes about continuity and that is what the tribunal has just reaffirmed.”
Agbaje in his reaction promised to appeal the judgement.
— Jul 13, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT