Law News
Supreme Court upholds Ambode’s election

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the election of the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, of the All Progressives Congress.

In a unanimous judgment of a seven-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Tanko Muhammad, the Supreme Court struck out the appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the April 11, 2015 poll, Mr. Olujimi Agbaje, for incompetence.

In its judgment, read by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi on Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck out Agbaje’s appeal by upholding Ambode’s preliminary objection contending that the appeal was incompetent and academic.

The apex court upheld the argument by Ambode’s lawyer, Olabode Olanipenikun, that the appeal had been rendered incompetent and academic by the virtue of the fact that the PDP refused to join Agbaje to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, which had earlier upheld the judgment of the Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to uphold Ambode’s election.

Justice Ogunbiyi ruled, “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.”

Dissatisfied with the declaration of Ambode as the winner of the election, Agbaje and the PDP had filed their petition challenging the outcome of the poll at the Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

In its judgment on June 26, 2015, the tribunal dismissed the petition by reason of the incompetence of the suit.

The petitioners further appealed to the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal, which also in its judgment on August 26 dismissed the case on the same grounds on which the tribunal anchored its decision.

But only Agbaje further appealed the decision of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

Justice Ogunbiyi, in dismissing Agbaje’s appeal, held that a political party was important “over and above a candidate in an election in our constitutional democracy.”

He said Agbaje, through his counsel, Chief Richard Ahonaruogho, had thus 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 uhpheld that of the trial tribunal and striking out the petitions is also affirmed by me,” Justice Ogunbiyi ruled.

Apart from Ambode, other respondents to the petition were the Independent National Electoral Commission, the APC, and the Lagos State Resident Electoral Commission of INEC.

Meanwhile, Ambode, and the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, have hailed the verdict, saying the people’s mandate had been reaffirmed by the highest court in the land.

In separate statements on Tuesday, Ambode and Obasa added that “the decision of the Supreme Court has put all issues on election matters to rest”.

Ambode, who commended the judiciary for its consistency, said, “Our government is thus poised without further delay to provide the needed leadership to justify the confidence reposed in us.

“The ruling has further proven the judiciary to be the critical institution that could further deepen our democratic values,” the governor said.

The speaker also said the court verdict had put the final legal seal on the victory of the governor and the APC in general in the election.

“The Supreme Court victory is a final legal seal in the victory of our governor and the party at large,” he said.

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