Justice Peter Lifu of the Federal High Court in Lagos dismissed a suit seeking to disqualify Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and All Progressives Congress (APC) House of Assembly candidates from contesting the elections next month.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) filed the suit on October 17, 2022.
It named as defendants the APC, Sanwo-Olu, the House of Assembly candidates, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The PDP claimed, among other things, that the APC violated sections 29 and 30(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 by failing to submit nomination forms for its candidates for the elections to INEC within 180 days of the March 11 elections.
It sought a number of reliefs, including a declaration that the 2nd-43rd defendants are disqualified for failing to submit the nomination forms of the 3rd-43rd defendants to INEC within 180 days of the election.
It sought “an order setting aside or nullifying forthwith the purported sponsorship and/or nomination” of Sanwo-Olu and the Assembly candidates to the INEC in connection with the upcoming elections by the APC.
It also sought “an order of injunction restraining the 2nd – 43rd defendants from parading themselves as a political party and candidates to contest the forthcoming Lagos State Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.”
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However, the APC, represented by Babatunde Ogala, SAN, and Sanwo-Olu, represented by Muyiwa Akinboro, SAN, filed a counter-suit.
Ogala filed a preliminary objection and a counter-affidavit with written address on behalf of the House of Assembly candidates.
He contended that the plaintiffs lacked locus standi to bring the suit against the defendants because they were not candidates in the 2nd defendant’s primary election.
He also contended that the action was barred by the statute of limitations and lacked a cause of action because the PDP failed to establish her interest in the suit.
The SAN also claimed that “the issue of candidate nomination or sponsorship is a sole prerogative and domestic affair of a political party,” and that “the suit constituted an abuse of court process.”
When the case came up for hearing on January 30, plaintiff’s counsel J. O. Olotu requested a postponement so that he could respond to the preliminary objection of the 4th – 43rd Defendants.
However, Ogala argued, among other things, that the suit should be dismissed because the Plaintiff was not diligent in prosecuting it.
The court adjourned until the preliminary objections and the originating process were heard.
It directed that the Plaintiff responds to the preliminary objection within 48 hours, and that the Defendants respond within 48 hours of that.
Ogala informed the court yesterday that the Plaintiff had failed to serve the Defendants with their response to the preliminary objections.
He also opposed the Plaintiff’s request to withdraw the lawsuit due to an intervening circumstance.
The SAN asked the court to dismiss the case completely, claiming that issues had already been joined.
He claimed that the Plaintiff’s counsel should have filed their notice of withdrawal within 14 days, citing Order 50 Rule 2 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019.
Justice Lifu upheld Ogala’s arguments and dismissed the case.