Lagos East: Abiru defeats PDP’s Gbadamosi at Appeal Court
The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, Thursday dismissed the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)’s suit which sought to disqualify Senator Adetokunbo Abiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from continuing to represent Lagos East Senatorial District.
A three-man panel of the court affirmed the March 1, 2021, decision of Justice Chukwuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Lagos which dismissed Babatunde Gbadamosi and the PDP’s suit for lacking in merit.
All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Abiru won the last December 5 senatorial bye-election by a landslide, polling 89,204 votes against Gbadamosi’s 11,257 votes.
But Gbadamosi and the PDP challenged Abiru’s eligibility to contest the election.
The challengers sought to disqualify Abiru on the ground of double voter registration, residency, indigeneship and violation of Section 31 of the Electoral Act.
But in dismissing their case, Justice Obiozor agreed with Abiru’s counsel Kemi Pinheiro SAN and APC’s counsel Abiodun Owonikoko SAN that the issue of residency and indigineship were not disqualifying factors under the constitution.
Dissatisfied, Gbadamosi and PDP approached the appellate court.
Delivering the unanimous judgment yesterday via Zoom, the court, Daniel Kallio, JCA presiding, decided the appeal and another cross-appeal in Abiru and the APC’s favour.
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN led other lawyers for the Appellants Gbadamosi and the PDP.
Wendy Kuku represented 1st Respondent INEC, Pinheiro led other lawyers for the 2nd Respondent/ Cross-Appellant Abiru, and Owonikoko led other lawyers for the 3rd Respondent/Cross-Appellant, APC.
The court in its judgment agreed with Pinheiro’s arguments and held that the appeal was unmeritorious.
In particular, the Court of Appeal held that the residency of a candidate to an election is not a qualifying or disqualifying factor.
It held further that the 2nd Respondent (Abiru) did not submit false information to INEC.
The Court also dismissed the arguments of the Appellants that the 2nd Respondent had irreconcilable names.
The Justices further agreed with the arguments of Pinheiro and allowed the Cross-Appeal.
In resolving the Cross-Appeal, the Court held that the suit of the Appellants at the lower Court was speculative and premature and the lower court ought to have dismissed same at the instance of the Preliminary Objection filed by the 2nd and 3rd Respondents.
Judgment was delivered via Zoom and Gbadamosi was online when his appeal was dismissed.