Eleven political parties have asked a Federal High Court, in Lagos to stop the forthcoming Local government election in Lagos State, due to the failure of the Lagos State Independent Election Commission (LASIEC) to register them for the Election.
The 11 political parties are: Alliance of Social Democrats; All Grand Alliance Party; Change Advocacy Party; Mega Party of Nigeria; Progressive People’s Alliance; Save Nigeria Congress; We The People’s Nigeria; Young Democratic Party; Advanced Congress of Democrats and Mass Movement of Nigeria.
Joined as defendants/respondents in the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/569/21 are LASIEC; Attorney-General of Lagos State and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
The 11 political parties in their motion Exparte filed by their lawyer, Adesanmi Afolabi, are seeking an order of interim injunction restraining LASIEC from conducting the local government Election of Lagos State, scheduled to hold on July 24, pending the hearing and determination of it’s pending motion on notice filed on June 18, 2021.
The court presided over by Justice Akintoye Aluko, had fixed the hearing of plaintiffs’ motion on notice for today.
But, at the resume of proceedings today, the Lagos State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Moyosore Onigbanjo(SAN) informed the court that they have a notice of preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of court in entertaining the suit and as well filed counter affidavit to the plaintiffs’ originating summons.
However, plaintiffs’ counsel, Adesanmi Afolabi, informed the court that he has filed his response to the counter affidavit of the 2nd Defendant, but said he has not been able to serve INEC, the third defendant, as they are evading Service.
In view of the circumstances Afolabi, informed the court that he had filed an exparte application, praying the court to restrain LASIEC from taking any step pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
But Onigbanjo vehemently opposed the hearing of plaintiffs’ Exparte motion, saying that such procedure is unknown to law.
Onigbanjo said the procedure adopted by the plaintiff contradicts rule of sequence. He said that motion on notice can not be filed before exparte.
“We are talking about service of the 3rd defendant which is still in issue, coupled with our preliminary objection and the plaintiff is talking about experte order at this stage. I urged my Lord not to fall into this type of temptation”
In response Afolabi, cited plethora of authorities and pointed out some sections of law that preclude the defendants here to be heard when it comes to an exparte proceedings.
He urged the court to order as prayed in the motion Exparte.
Meanwhile, Justice Aluko has reserves ruling till Monday July 19.
The applicants in an affidavit deposed to by Mr. Tade Ademola Abdulkabir, the Lagos State Chairman of Alliance of Social Democrats, stated that the plaintiffs were unlawfully deregistered by the INEC on February 6, 2020 and as a result of that, the 1st Defendant has denied the Plaintiffs/Applicants from participating in the forth coming Local government election in Lagos State scheduled to hold on the 24th day of July, 2021.
Ademola State that before the Plaintiffs/Applicants were deregistered by the INEC, some of the Plaintiffs/Applicants together with some other political parties approached the Federal High Court sitting at Abuja to stop INEC from deregistering them in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/444/2019 between Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) & Ors v. A.G. Federation & Another, in which judgement was not in their favour.
Dissatisfied with the Federal High Court judgment, the deponent stated that the plaintiffs approached the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/507/2020.
The Appeal court in a judgement delivered on August 10, 2020, by Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, set aside the decision of the Federal High Court, Abuja and declared the deregistration of Plaintiffs/Applicants by the INEC on February 6, 2020 as unlawful.
The deponent stated that in view of the election timetable for the 2021 Local Government Election of Lagos State released by LASIEC, the Plaintiffs/Applicants briefed their solicitor to put up a letter of interest/intention to participate in the Local Government Election of Lagos State dated May 5, 2021.
He stated that the said letters were duly served on LASIEC and a copy served on the State’s AG accordingly.
He added further that LASIEC however banked on the deregistration of the Plaintiffs/Applicants by the INEC as can be seen in LASIEC’s response letter to the Plaintiffs/Applicants’ letters inviting the LASIEC to participate in their various primary elections and therefore restricted the Plaintiffs/Applicants from presenting candidates and participating in the electoral process of the 2021 Local government election of Lagos State.
He stated that in view of the Court of Appeal judgment in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/507/2020 between Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) & Ors v. A.G. Federation & Anor., delivered on August 10, 2021, the Plaintiffs/Applicants are valid political parties qualified to participate in the said Local government election of Lagos State scheduled to hold on the 24th day of July, 2021. And that in view of the failure of the LASIEC to allow the Plaintiffs/Applicants to present candidates and participate in the electoral process of the Local Government election of Lagos State scheduled to hold on July 24, 2021, hence this application for interim injunction.
He stated further that the plaintiffs’ counsel, Adesanmi Afolabi on July 9, 2021 at about 12 noon informed him as follows: that it is important that status quo is maintained pending the determination of the motion on notice filed on June 18, 2021. And that if the application is not granted and unless the court intervenes, the conduct of the Local Government election of Lagos State on July 24, 2021, will irregularly alter the status quo, breach the applicants right and render ineffective and nugatory Court of Appeal judgment in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/507/2020 between Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) & Ors v. A.G. Federation & Anor. delivered on August 10, 2021.
He also stated that the plaintiffs/Applicants will suffer serious mischief and loss if the application is not granted. And that it just and convenient for the court to intervene by the grant of the application, hence the rights of the plaintiffs/applicants will be violated.