A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has refused to make an order restraining a former Minister of Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, from contesting in the December 8 Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship primary in Lagos State.
Justice Kazeem Alogba, who refused to make the order on Thursday, said the applicants failed to prove the urgency of the action to warrant granting the order.
The judge questioned why the applicants did not bring the ex parte application along with the originating summons earlier filed on the subject matter on November 14, if there was urgency as was argued by their lawyer, Mr. Abdullahi Shittu.
Three members of the PDP in Lagos, Micheal Ogun, Suleima Saheed and Wasiu Odusan had asked the court to declare Obanikoro ineligible to stand election in Nigeria on the platform of any party.
Their originating summons filed before the court was supported with five exhibits among which is an American passport claimed as belonging to Obanikoro but obtained under a different name.
The applicants also exhibited an international passport claimed to belong to Obanikoro but alleged to carry a false age.
Joined as respondents in the suit are Obanikoro, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the PDP.
The applicants were praying the court to declare that by the provision of Paragraph 4 (a) of Part iv of the Electoral Guidelines for primary Elections, 2014, of the INEC, Obanikoro was not eligible to participate in the governorship primary election of the PDP scheduled for December 8, 2014 in Lagos State.
They also argued that in view of the alleged age falsification, Obanikoro was not even eligible to contest on the platform of any political party in Nigeria.
They said, “Pursuant to Sections 182(1) (a) (j) of the 1999 constitution, Sections 31(2), 31 (5) 31 (6) and 31 (8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 and Section 10 (1) and other relevant sections of the PDP constitution, the 1st respondent stands disqualified by virtue of his antecedents and constitutional provisions.”
Moving the ex parte application on the subject matter, the applicants’ counsel, Shittu, said it was expedient to stop Obanikoro in order not to allow for illegality.
“A democracy is principally founded on the rule of law. At all times there are two choices to make, whether you want to be guided by the rule of law or by the culture of impunity. Your Lordship will decide this issue for history and for posterity,” Shittu said.
However, the judge in his ruling, said that considering the gravity of the allegations levelled against Obanikoro, it would only be fair to grant him fair hearing before making any such order.
The court added that it did not believe that the interest of the applicants would be jeopardised in anyway if the court did not make an instant order restraining Obanikoro from participating in the said primary.
Alogba therefore asked the applicants to serve the respondents with the relevant processes, including the option of substituted service through either The Punch or The Guardian Newspapers.
The court subsequently adjourned till December 9, a day after the PDP primary, to hear the substantive suit.