Says Agbaje cannot appeal without his party
The Supreme Court yesterday struck out the appeal filed by Jimi Agbaje, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in Lagos.
Agabje appealed the decision of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which upheld the decision of the governorship election petition tribunal and dismissed the appeal he filed with his party.
The tribunal had, in its judgment on June 20, dismissed the petition jointly filed by Agabje and his party challenging the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Akinwunmi Ambode, on the grounds that it was incompetent.
Yesterday, the seven-man panel, led by Justice Tanko Mohammad, in a unanimous decision, struck out Agabje’s appeal for being incompetent.
In the judgment read by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, the Supreme Court upheld the preliminary objection filed by Ambode against the appeal initiated solely by Agbaje.
The court upheld Ambode’s contention that Agbaje’s appeal was incompetent and merely academic because the party (PDP) that sponsored Agbaje as its candidate accepted the decision of the Appeal Court on the issue and refused to join Agbaje to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Justice Ogunbiyi: “For all intents and purposes, the communal deduction of the foregoing is a situation where a sponsoring political party has accepted the dismissal of its challenge to an election as binding on it.
“Also inclusive in the said decision is the party’s candidate (appellant in this appeal). It is significant to restate further that the judgment given in CA/L/EP/GOV/762A/2015 has not been appealed,” the judge said.
Justice Ogunbiyi said a political party was more important than the candidate in an election.
The judge said the appellant and his lawyer, Richard Ahonaruogho, failed to “dislodge the preliminary objection raised by the second respondent (Ambode) and which same I uphold and sustain”.
“Consequently, the appeal herein is struck out for incompetence. The judgment of the lower court which upheld that of the trial tribunal and striking out the petitions is also affirmed by me,” Justice Ogunbiyi said.
Listed as respondents were the Independent National Electoral Commission, the APC and the Resident Electoral Commission.
Ambode described the judgment as a welcome development, saying the people’s mandate which was expressly demonstrated on Election Day had been reaffirmed.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, the governor said: “The decision of the Supreme Court has put all issues on election matters to rest once and for all.
“Our government is thus poised without further delay to provide the needed leadership to justify the confidence reposed in us, especially with the ruling coming in the wake of the swearing-in of members of the state executive council.”