The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Wednesday affirmed the verdict of the Lagos State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which upheld the declaration of Akinwunmi Ambode as the winner of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Lagos State.
This is coming barely a month after the tribunal sitting in Ikeja, struck out the petition filed by Mr Jimi Agbaje, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The appellate court aligned with the July 1, 2015 decision of the Justice Muhammad Sijaro-led tribunal which declared as incompetent and therefore struck out the petition by Agbaje, who was the second runner-up in the said election.
The five-man appeal panel, after dismissing Agbaje’s appeal on the grounds of incompetence, ordered him to compensate each of the respondents in the sum of N50,000 each.
The four respondents in the suit were Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, APC, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner.
Ambode had been returned winner of the April 11, 2015 poll by INEC, having polled 811,994 votes ahead of Agbaje who polled 659,788 votes.
Lagos PDP reacts
Meanwhile, the Lagos PDP has described the judgement of the appellate court as a controversial legal victory and not a moral victory for the APC and governor Ambode.
In a statement by its publicity secretary, Mr Taofik Gani, the party said: “By this development, the APC and governor Ambode can only celebrate a controversial legal victory and not a Moral victory. The Appeal Court Justices identified a loophole of technicality in our Petition. They agreed, that but for the identified mistake in couching our Petition, the decision would have been different in the circumstance of the Lagos governorship election contest.
“Indeed, the court of Appeal upheld that the issue of the qualification of Ambode in the governorship election was erroneously dismissed by the Tribunal. This is definitely a confusing judgment. The justices have their conscience to contend with if they have done actual justice in the matter.
“We will meet with our legal team for further advice and we shall consider all consequential options. An appeal to the Supreme Court is not ruled out. But in the meantime, we appreciate the people’s support in the period of this hearings. We shall return to our planning room and hopefully consolidate our established electoral victory in subsequent elections.
“We now know the strength and weakness of the APC in Lagos state,” said the PDP.