The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has fixed Nov. 16 to hear a suit touching on the Lagos East Senatorial District Seat.
The seat was previously occupied by Senator Bayo Osinowo who passed away on June 15, reportedly from complications arising from the Coronavirus.
The All Progressives Candidate (APC) had subsequently put forward the name of Mr Tokunbo Abiru as its candidate in a by-election to fill the vacancy.
But his eligibility is being challenged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)and its candidate in the poll, Babatunde Gbadamosi. Listed as first and second plaintiffs they filed a suit seeking to stop Mr. Abiru from contesting.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abiru, and the APC are listed as the first to third defendants respectively in the suit.
In the suit, the PDP and Gbadamosi asked the court to disqualify Abiru on the grounds that he allegedly has two Permanent Voters cards, and that he is neither from nor registered to vote in the Lagos East Senatorial District.
When the case came up for hearing today, counsel to the APC, Kemi Pinheiro SAN told Justice Chuka Obiozor to dismiss the PDP’s suit on the ground that it was statute-barred.
The counsel also informed the court that he had filed a counter-affidavit and preliminary objection to supporting his claim that the suit was statute-barred in line with the provisions of Section 285 (9) of the Constitution which provides that “every pre-election matter ought to be commenced within 14 days of the date of the occurrence of the event or action complained about”.
The defendants contended that the acts complained of in the suit all occurred on or before September 11th, which is above the period of 14 days prior to the commencement of the suit.
The defendants also argued that Abiru’s residency or indigene status is not recognized grounds upon which he could be disqualified from contesting an election.
They also submitted that “the mode and manner in which a grievance regarding double voter registration can be ventilated has been well captured in the Electoral Act which provides that it has to be by a criminal charge.”
The APC and its candidate, therefore, contended that the suit was “incompetent, discloses no reasonable cause of action” and that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the same.
The PDP counsel, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) has told the court that he filed an Originating Motion but needed time to file a response to the defendant’s preliminary objection.
Justice Obiozor subsequently adjourned further proceedings till November 16.