Governor Ambode asks tribunal to strike out Agbaje’s petition against him

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Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have told the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja to discredit the petition of the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) gubernatorial aspirant in the April 11 poll, Jimi Agbaje.

Agbaje had filed a petition before the tribunal, challenging the declaration of Ambode as the winner of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Lagos State.

The APC plea was contained in a preliminary notice of objection jointly filed before the three-man tribunal headed by Justice Muhammad Sirajo.

Other respondents in the suit are the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and its Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner.

In the suit, Agbaje alleged irregularities during the election which he said breached the provisions of the INEC approved guidelines for the polls.

Moving their application at the resumed hearing of the petition on Thursday, June 25, counsel to Ambode, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), argued that the petition should be struck out for being incompetent.

Olanipekun argued that there is no correlation between the reliefs being sought by the petitioner and the particulars of application on one hand and the grounds for questioning the election on the other hand.

“The grounds and particulars in the petition are at opposites with the facts and reliefs being sought within the purview of Section 285(2) of the 1999 Constitution. I urge my Lordships to dismiss the petition,” Olanipekun said.

He stated that there is nowhere in the pleadings where the petitioners attacked the victory of the respondents or questioned the conduct of the election.

He said, “I submit that there is no petition before your lordships known to law. There are no grounds challenging the election of my client under Section 138(b)(c) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.”

According to him, the court cannot act on sentiment and sympathy of parties, emphasizing that sympathy does not override clear provisions of the law.

However, Agbaje’s counsel insists that the petition is competent.

He said. “Paragraph 13(a) and (b) of our petition questioned the election in Lagos State on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and irregularities such as in the use of the card readers.

“We have looked at their preliminary objections in this case and have concluded that they are objections made on mere technicalities.”

Justice Sirajo thereafter adjourned the sitting of the tribunal till July 1, 2015 for ruling.

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