Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Lagos East Senatorial District:Appeal Court Dismisses Abiru, APC Cases

The Court of Appeal, sitting in Lagos, on Friday, January 15, 2021, dismissed two appeals filed by Adetokunbo Abiru and the All Progressive Congress, in relation to the pending court case on the Lagos East Senatorial Bye Election. The Court upheld the preliminary objection filed by Babatunde Gbadamosi and the People’s Democratic Party, challenging the competence of the said appeals. The Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate in the said bye-election, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi, had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Abiru and the APC before the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking to disqualify Abiru from contesting the election on the ground of double voter’s registration and violation of section 31 of the Electoral Act. In the course of hearing the suit filed on their behalf by human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, the Plaintiffs applied to the Federal High Court to withdraw their application for an amendment of their originating summons, in order to accelerate the hearing of the substantive suit. The defendants, Abiru and APC, however opposed the said application to withdraw the proposed amendment, insisting that the trial Court should dismiss it, which request the court declined and it struck out the process instead. The defendants thereafter filed two separate appeals against the order of the federal high court, contending that the application for amendment should have been dismissed by the trial court and not struck out. Upon being served with the said appeals, Gbadamosi and PDP filed a notice of preliminary objection to the competence of the appeals, contending that no appeal could be filed under the amended section 285 (11) of the Constitution, against any interlocutory decision of the trial court, in pre-election matters. Section 285 (11) provides that “an appeal from a decision of in a pre-election matter shall be filed within 14 days from the date of delivery of the judgment appealed against”. They contended further that the appellants should await the final decision of the trial court on the substantive matter, in order to incorporate their interlocutory appeals against the final judgment of the court. The Court of Appeal took arguments from counsel to the parties on January 11, 2021 and delivered its judgments on January 15, 2021, in less than one week. Commenting on the judgements, counsel to Gbadamosi and PDP, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, hailed the speed with which the appeals were heard and determined, urging the government to do everything possible to empower the judiciary to administer justice more effectively, so that all pending cases can be heard expeditiously. He decried situations whereby some appeals are still pending in court five years after they were filed, when some of the parties would have died and therefore unable to reap the fruits of the judgment.

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