The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, Thursday, dismissed the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, appeal, seeking to disqualify Senator Adetokunbo Abiru of the All Progressives Congress, APC, from continuing to represent Lagos East senatorial district.
A three-man panel of the court affirmed the March 1, 2021, decision of Justice Chukwuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Lagos, which dismissed Babatunde Gbadamosi and the PDP’s suit for lacking in merit.
The APC chieftain, Abiru won the last December 5 senatorial bye-election by a landslide, polling 89,204 votes against Gbadamosi, who polled 11,257 votes.
But Gbadamosi and the PDP challenged Abiru’s eligibility to contest the election.
The challengers sought to disqualify Abiru on the ground of double voter registration, residency, indigeneship and violation of Section 31 of the Electoral Act.
But in dismissing their case, Justice Obiozor agreed with Abiru’s counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN and APC’s counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, that the issue of residency and indegineship were not disqualifying factors under the constitution.
Dissatisfied, Gbadamosi and PDP approached the appellate court.
Delivering the unanimous judgment on Thursday, via Zoom, Justice Daniel Kallio, decided the appeal and cross appeal in Abiru and the APC’s favour.
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, led other lawyers for the appellants Gbadamosi and the PDP.
Wendy Kuku represented 1st respondent INEC, Pinheiro led other lawyers for the 2nd respondent/ Cross-Appellant Abiru and Owonikoko led other lawyers for the 3rd respondent/Cross-Appellant APC.
The court in its judgment agreed with Pinheiro’s arguments and held that the appeal was unmeritorious.
In particular, the Court of Appeal held that the residency of a candidate to an election was not a qualifying or disqualifying factor.
It held further that Abiru did not submit false information to INEC.
The court also dismissed the arguments of the appellants that the 2nd respondent had irreconcilable names.
The Justices further agreed with the arguments of Pinheiro and allowed the Cross-Appeal.