Tribunal Dismisses Agbaje’s Petition Against Ambode, PDP Kicks Against Ruling

Lagos State governorship election Tribunal sitting in Ikeja, has dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate in the April 11 election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, against Akinwunmi Ambode of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Agbaje had petitioned the tribunal challenging the declaration of Ambode as the winner of the election on the basis of irregularities during the election, which he said breached the guidelines approved by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, for the polls.

But ruling on the preliminary application filed by Ambode’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, the three-man panel led by Justice Muhammad Sirajo held on Wednesday that the petition was incompetent.

It noted specifically that the petitioner, Jimi Agbaje did not ask for a fresh election despite asking the court to nullify the election.

The panel in delivering the ruling said: “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 anarchic situation as no order can validly be made for the conduct of fresh election, same having not been sought for.

Ambode and Agbaje

 “A petition that is found on disqualification of a respondent and an order of nullification of the election must of necessity contain a prayer for an order of fresh election. Where such a prayer is lacking, the petition will be incompetent and academic as even the resolution of such a petition in favour of the petitioner will not confer any utilitarian value on the petitioner(s).

“Where no relief for fresh election is claimed in a petition, a ground of petition founded on section 138(1)(b) of the Electoral Act and the entire petition itself are incompetent and liable to be struck out.” While striking out the petition, Justice Sirajo said: “It is for this reason that the grounds of the petition that survived up till this point can no longer be countenanced. In the circumstance paragraph 13(b) and 14 of the petition and reliefs 19(5) and 19(8) are hereby struck out in view of the want of the relief seeking for the conduct of fresh election. Having done so, the petition becomes bare and empty.

“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,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party has criticised the ruling of the governorship election petitions tribunal which struck out its petition on Wednesday.

The tribunal struck out a petition challenging the victory of the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode in the April 11 governorship election.

The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Muhhamed Sirajo, ruled on the case after Ambode’s lawyer Wole Olanipekun, requested that the tribunal should strike out the petition for being incompetent, bringing to an end the tribunal sitting that had started in May.

However, the Lagos chapter of the PDP described the ruling as a miscarriage of justice and a “monumental drawback in the dispensation of justice.”

In a statement issued on Wednesday by its Publicity Secretary, Taofik Gani, the party had decided to appeal the ruling while also considering a report of the “obvious miscarriage of justice by the election petitions panel” to the National Judicial Council for necessary disciplinary actions.

The statement read in part, “The governorship election tribunal that sat at Ikeja had today (Wednesday) struck out the petition filed by the PDP and its governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje. The three-man panel tribunal described the petition as worthless because it did not contain a relief for re-run election.

“It would be recalled that the PDP recently raised its hope in winning the petition based on the recent judgment of an Edo election petitions tribunal which declared a PDP candidate as winner of the election because the All Progressives Congress did not meet up with the provisions of the electoral act on notice of conduct of party primary. We are very jolted and embarrassed that our petition can die prematurely without it being heard on the merit. We think there is a miscarriage of justice here.”

The party alleged foul play by the APC in influencing the decision of the panel, arguing that Ambode’s nomination as a governorship candidate is invalid.

“They (APC) must have influenced this step knowing well that governor Ambode’s nomination is invalid and not qualified to be a valid candidate for the election. They robbed us at the ballots. They want to do same at the tribunal. We will pursue this mandate even with the last drop of our blood,” Gani said.

Author: News Editor

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