Politics

2023: Aspirant drags Lagos APC, INEC to Court

Lagos state House of Assembly aspirant in Ikorodu Constituency 2 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Hon. Oluwatosin Onamade has dragged the Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC), Lagos APC and House of Assembly candidate for Ikorodu Constituency 2, Hon. Abiodun Moshood Aro before the Court of Appeal to further challenge the dismissal of his suit by the lower court on the outcome of the May 27 primary election.

Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos, on August 4, 2022, dismissed a suit filed by Hon. Oluwatosin Onamade challenging the pronouncement and adoption of Aro as the candidate of the party.

Onamade had told the court that the 3rd defendant, Aro is a card-carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and didn’t resign his membership of the party before contesting on the platform of APC.

He also alleged that Aro made use of a fake membership card of the APC to participate in the May 27 primary election.

To support his claims, he tendered affidavits sworn to by the PDP Ward and LGA chairmen confirming Aro’s membership of the PDP as well as his campaign posters of the opposition party.

Stating his grounds of appeal, the appellant through his counsels, Barr Oladimeji Ekengba, Olajide Adekanye and Paulina Izokun declared that the learned trial judge erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice to the appellant when he declined jurisdiction and held that the case of the appellant was statute barred and caught by the provision of section 285 (9) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as altered).

“One of the grounds is that having filed the substantive suit on July 5, time could not have run out on him since INEC concealed the results of the election and waited till after 14 days before results began flying around by the 3rd defendant on the social media with the name of AMA as the winner, which was against Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022.

The decision of the lower court to dismiss the suit on the ground that no evidence was provided to support the claim that there were irregularities in the conduct of the election is also under contention.

The lower court failed to take cognisance of the fact that Onamade had during the hearing provided exhibits such as several letters written to INEC and the APC, complaining of the non-declaration of winners of the election on the day it was conducted. At the hearing, neither INEC nor APC denied receiving such letters of complaint.

The failure of the court to examine the complaint concerning the eligibility of the 3rd defendant to contest the election as a member of the opposition party also raised eyebrows.

While the lower court hid behind the claim that the choice of a candidate is a party affair, it failed to take into consideration exhibits before it confirmed that the 3rd defendant was still a member of the PDP when he contested in the APC’s election, as well as the alleged fake membership card presented by the 3rd defendant to contest in the election.

The court also failed to take into consideration that the ruling party erred by allowing the 3rd defendant to take part in the election which was against the Electoral Act which mandated a candidate to resign his or her membership of a political party before joining another one” the notice and grounds of appeal read.

Earlier, Onamade had alleged that the Lagos APC primary election head was marred with irregularities, as he claimed; some of the voters in the election were not eligible to vote in the election. He stated further that INEC and APC Election committee failed to announce the winner of the primary on the day the election was held, and this, according to him, was against the provision of the law.

He added, “I got to know about the emergence of Aro as the winner on June 25, 14 days after the election on social media platforms which prompted me to challenge the result. I, therefore, urged the court to declare the election null and void and declare him as the winner.”

He, therefore, urged the court of appeal to set aside the decision of the lower court, saying it is against the weight of the evidence while also debunking the award of N50, 000.00 against him by the court.

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