Tribunal to consider Ambode’s preliminary objection against Agbaje

court.jpg-citynewsTHE Lagos State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Ikeja will today rule on whether to hear the preliminary objection filed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode against the petition filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr Jimi Agbaje on the April 28,2015 election.

Agbaje had in his petition before tribunal, challenged the declaration of Akinwunmi Ambode by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the gubernatorial election.

During proceedings yesterday, the tribunal headed by Justice Mohammed Ibrahim Sirajo proposed that all preliminary objections should be taken along with the petition and the issue to argue it.

The petitioner counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor agreed with the court noting that the proposal represents the position of the law contained in paragraph 12 of the Electoral Act, 2012 as amended.

Onwuenwunor also argued that the Supreme Court decision in Belgore and Ahmed sanctioned the proposal suggested by members of the tribunal.
He also submitted that if the preliminary objections are taken and later results to an appeal which would take months, the right of the petitioner to present his case would be infringed on and therefore urged the court to followed the proposal it had suggested.
Opposing the proposal, Akinwunmi ‘s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, (SAN) submitted that paragraph 18 and 47 (1) of the Electoral Act specified that objections shall be taken before the hearing of the petition.

He said that paragraph 47 of the Electoral Act particularly forbids that any motion be heard without first taking preliminary objection except in extreme circumstance adding that it is trite that election petitions are ‎generic.

Olanipekun also argued that the petitioner has not presented any extreme circumstance to warrant non-hearing of the preliminary objection before the substantive motion .

Maintaining that the tribunal does not have discretion to change the election petition hearing procedure , Olanipekun posited that the preliminary objection which his client has raised bordered on the competence of the petitioner to file the suit and as such should be taken before hearing the actual petition.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) counsel, Dr Muiz Banire was in agreement with the Olanipekun’s submission, stating that the tribunal’s proposal would automatically terminate all preliminary objections in the matter.

The tribunal therefore adjourned till today June 26, 2015 for ruling and insisted that the statutory 180 days period for the hearing would commence after the ruling.

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