The Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal will on Monday, June 12, hear a suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC), seeking to dismiss the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in the state, Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor.
The adjournment by the three-member tribunal led by Justice Arum Ashom, is to enable parties in the petition regularise their documents in response to the APC’s application. The court also adjourned hearing of all pending applications in the petition till June 12th.
When the petition came up for pre-hearing on Thursday, the petitioner, Adediran and his lead counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor (SAN) were absent in court but were represented by other lawyers who made up their team.
During the pre-hearing, counsel for the APC, Norrison Quakers (SAN) told the court that Onwuenwunor had gotten in touch with him to say that he would like to argue the application himself.
Quakers further noted that even though the APC’s application to dismiss the PDP’s petition was filed within the time frame given by the tribunal, the petitioner’s response was out of time.
Recall that at the pre-hearing proceedings held on May 31st, at which the petitioner and his lead counsel were present, the Tribunal had directed that all applications be filed and served on or before June the 3rd. It further directed that responses to the application be filed and served on or before June 6th and replies to same must be filed by June 7th so that the applications could be taken today, June the 8th.
One of the counsels, Austen Akpomreta, who represented the petitioner reportedly told the tribunal on Thursday that the APC’s (4th respondent) application was served on the team on June 2nd, but they were unable to respond within 24 hours.
Akpomreta was quoted as saying that “The 4th respondent application was filed on June 1 and not 31st. The affidavit says it was deposed on the 1st of June. There are two stamps on it, the 31st & 1st. It was received by the registry on the 1st of June. We were served on the 2nd. We could not respond within 24 hours.
“I’ll be requesting that our filing out of time should not be treated as a disrespect to the court but owing to circumstances beyond our control. If we were served earlier, our papers would have been in earlier.
“In view of the circumstances, we urge the court to graciously extend time within which the petitioner were to file their response and to also deem as properly filed, the petitioners counter affidavit filed & served on the 7th of June.”
Meanwhile, the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who is the first respondent in the petition told the tribunal that it had received the APC’s application but did not intend to file any response to it.
It was further reported that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide SanwoOlu and his Deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, who are the 2nd and 3rd respondents to the petition, through their counsel, Kunle Adegoke (SAN), notified the tribunal that they had 3 pending applications objecting to the petition.
However, the tribunal reminded the Governor’s counsel that the applications were also filed out of time and would need to be made regular before they can be heard.
The Labour Party and its Governorship Candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, through their counsel, Kemi Afesojaye, confirmed receipt of the APC’s application but had no objection to it.
Afesojaye said, “We have no objection to the motion filed by the 4th respondent. However, we have also filed a motion on notice today outside of the period stipulated by the tribunal and the purpose is to activate the preliminary objections already raised in our reply.
“We weren’t going to file anything but having learnt from the sister case in the matter, we decided to file and same has been served on other parties.”
The tribunal after listening to all the parties directed that all irregularities be made right and adjourned hearing of all pending applications to June 12.