The Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja on Wednesday struck out the petition filed by Mr Jimi Agbaje of PDP against Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and All Progressives Congress (APC).
The three-member tribunal, chaired by Justice Muhammad Sirajo, upheld the submission of Ambode and APC that the petition was incompetent.
Sirajo said: “In the instant petition, apart from an order nullifying the election of the second respondent, the petitioners did not ask for an order of fresh election.
“Where such a prayer is lacking, the petition will be incompetent and academic as even the resolution of such a petition will be incompetent and academic.
“Even the resolution of such a petition in favour of the petitioner will not confer any utilitarian value on the petitioner.
“Where no relief for fresh election is claimed in a petition, a ground founded on Section 138(1)(b) of the Electoral Act and the entire petition itself are incompetent and liable to be struck out.
“So, if for instance, the election is nullified, the people of Lagos State would be left in an anarchic situation as no order can validly be made for the conduct of a fresh election, same having been sought for.
“A petition that is founded on disqualification of a respondent and an order of nullification of the election must, of necessity, contain a prayer for an order of fresh election. “it is for this reason that the grounds of the petition that survived up till this point can no longer be countenanced.
“In the circumstance, paragraph 13(b) and 19(8) of the petition and reliefs 19(5) and 19(8) are hereby struck out in view of the want of the reliefs seeking the conduct of fresh election.” Agbaje had petitioned the tribunal challenging the outcome of the April 11 governorship election in the state which Ambode won.
Agbaje alleged some irregularities in the election which breached the provisions of INEC guidelines for the polls.
The other respondents in the suit were INEC and Lagos State resident electoral commissioner.
Ambode’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), had argued that the petition should be struck out for being incompetent.
“There is no correlation between the reliefs being sought and the particulars 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 said the petitioners neither attacked the victory of the respondents nor question the conduct of the election and as such “there is no petition before your lordships known to law.’’
Counsel to Agbaje, Mr Clement Onwuenwunor, had maintained that the petition was competent and the issues for determination by the tribunal carefully spelt out. “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,” he said.