Yesterday’s court judgement on the appeal brought by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN against the tribunal victory of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP in their victory of Ikoyi-Obalende Local Government saved the Lagos ruling party a lot of embarrassment when the court ruled in their favour.
Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA is a very strategic stronghold for the ACN being where the famous Bourdillon Road residence of its national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is located, from where he dictates the affairs of the opposition party and holds court. As such, allowing their sworn enemy, the PDP to take over would have caused them a great deal of embarrassment.
The PDP had claimed victory in the election penultimate October in a tightly contested election where the PDP fielded JideObanikoro, a son of one of the leaders of the party, of Senator MusiliuObanikoro, Nigeria’s ambassador to Ghana and a one time close associate of AsiwajuTinubuin the state against AdewaleAdeniji.
There had been controversy immediately after the election in October 2010 when the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, delayed the release of the results for more than 24 hours without any logical reason, leading some PDP members to cry foul as they claimed victories over the ACN in the state.
When the results were released, it declared Adedeji as the winner, in what many saw as a contradiction of what the ACN always preach at the Federal level.
Obanikoro, who had shown impressive politicking in the run-up to the election then resorted to the courts, armed with what he believed was sufficient evidence to rubbish the victory claims of the ACN.
He also enjoyed the massive backing of the Hausa community in Obalende who had voted for him en masse due to his picking one of them as his running mate.
At the Election Tribunal, the victory of the ACN was reversed as the Justice DolapoAkinsanya (ret) led tribunal voided the return of the ACN candidate declaring boldly that Obanikoro won the election.
The tribunal ruled that the PDP won the election by 6,780 to 6,248 votes.
The tribunal result immediately shocked the large entourage of ACN enthusiasts that flocked the court on that day last October.
After a period of dithering during which the ACN allegedly considered conceding the office to the PDP as an example of its large heartedness, party radicals chose to fight the battle at the court of appeal where they obtained victory yesterday.
Both sides were yesterday unforgiving in their separate reactions to the court verdict which favoured the ACN on the basis of the lapse of time.
On one hand, the ACN speaking through its state publicity secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokweappealed to the PDP to accept the decision of the appellate court.
“Whatever the decision of the court is final and I think as law abiding citizens, we have to accept the decision. That is my appeal to the opposition. They should not take laws into their hands, they should accept the judgment in good faith and move on,” Igbokwe said.
On its own side, the Lagos State chapter of the PDP immediately rejected the counsel describing the judgment as miscarriage of justice.
In a lengthy statement by its publicity secretary, Mr TaofikGani, the PDP described the judgment of the local government Appeal Tribunal, “as miscarriage of justice done deliberately to satisfy the ruling ACN in the State.”
While it threatened to report the appeal judges to the National Judicial Commission, NJC, it alleged that “they have deliberately misapplied the law to satisfy their paymaster.”
The party also accused the ACN of exposing itself as “pseudo democrats who should not be allowed to jettison our nascent democracy with their now apparent desperation to hold onto the illegal contraptions called LCDA.”
In addition, the party said the judgment of the Appeal tribunal is “provocative and capable of aggravating the already tensed polity in the state.”
The PDP candidate, Obanikoro expressed disappointment at the judgment which he said was essentially based on technicalities and was done without cognizance of the appeal tribunal which upturned his earlier victory.
“I am totally against the judgment and highly disappointed that the merits of the case were not looked at. They just based their decision on time and did not even bother to find out how we got to where we were.”
According to him, “while at the tribunal, we filed a motion for extension of time, the tribunal judges said there was no need to move that motion because they had dismissed the preliminary objections that was brought by the ACN. The Appeal tribunal judges now used that against us. The court ordered us to withdraw our motion, which we did, now they are using it against us. I think it is totally biased, I think it is unfair and I think it promotes disobeying the law. It is totally uncalled for and it is a shame on democracy and a shame on the judiciary as well.”
In its unanimous judgment, the five-man Appeal panel chaired by Justice Opeyemi Oke, reversed the decision of the Election Tribunal saying that the case exceeded the 30 days time line as stipulated in section 14 (1) of LG Election Laws of Lagos State.