|Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Tokunbo Abiru, yesterday asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a challenge on his eligibility for the office by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Abiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) told Justice Chuka Obiozor that the suit filed by the PDP candidate in the December 5, 2020 senatorial bye-election, Ademola Gbadamosi, was incompetent, defective and ought to be struck out. Gbadamosi is pursing a claim that Abiru was ineligible for the election on grounds relating to alleged double voter registration and indigeneship. But Abiru, who won the election argued his objection to the suit through his counsel, Kemi Pinheiro. His counsel told the judge that the plaintiff’s suit was statute-barred, incompetent and was commenced via a wrong procedure. Relying on his preliminary objection and written address, Pinheiro observed that Gbadamosi’s originating summons was “incompetently and inelegantly drafted” and contained “ungrantable reliefs.” He stated that the plaintiff formulated nine issues which relates to double registration and the indigeneship but that rather than argue the said issues, he went on to argue two new different and distinct issues. Pinheiro argued that the only thing left for the court to do was strike out the said originating summons for being defective.
Relying on INEC v. Atuma, he noted that the issue of residency does not disqualify a candidate from contesting an election. He drew the court’s attention to Faleke v. INEC, where the court held that a candidate cannot be disqualified by reason of him registering in a different constituency and that sovereignty belongs to the people to choose their elected officials and not the Court to choose for the people.
Plaintiff’s counsel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, could not respond due to the absence of APC’s counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko. Due to the earlier requests for an adjournment to enable Owonikoko take the APC’s counter affidavit and arguments therein, Obiozor adjourned till January 22 for continuation of argument.
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