Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court in Lagos Monday turned down a request for the suspension of the forthcoming local government elections in Lagos State.
A chairmanship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Raheem Rasaki Alani, had urged the court to order the suspension of the poll scheduled for July 24, 2021, pending the final determination of a suit he filed to challenge the conduct of the election in 57 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created by the state government.
The suit marked FHC/L/CS/677/2021, has Alani, a resident and registered voter in Agege LGA, as the plaintiff, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) were the 1st and 2nd defendants.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, some political parties among which are the African Action Congress (AAC) and African Peoples Movement (APM) informed the court of their intention to join as plaintiffs.
In his submissions, LASIEC’s lawyer, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) prayed the court to adjourn further proceedings till after the annual vacation because he is yet to be served with motions of parties seeking to join the suit.
He argued that service is very fundamental before a case can be properly adjudicated on and as such failure of any party to comply with the law guiding the issue of service would rob the court of jurisdiction to entertain the case.
Responding, Alani’s lawyer, Taiwo Alabi, urged the court to order the parties to maintain ‘status quo’ pending the determination of the suit, a situation that could have led to the suspension of the poll by the court.
The request was, however, opposed by Pinheiro on the ground that it runs contrary to the Appeal Court’s directive.
He opined that Alabi’s request was a trap ‘which the court must not fall for’ because the Appeal Court had stated on different occasions that such should not be entertained.
“How can the plaintiff in the face of various applications for joinder filed by different parties which are yet to be served on me, and a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court from entertaining the case filed by us, be seeking the order of status quo?
“I pray the court to adjourn further proceedings in this case till after the annual vacation of the court which is starting on the 26th of July,” Pinheiro said.
In a Bench ruling, Justice Aneke upheld Pinheiro’s submissions and adjourned further hearing in the matter to November 29. The judge, however, advised the plaintiff to approach the vacation judge during the court’s vacation if dissatisfied.
In his affidavit of urgency, Alani argued that LASIEC ought to conduct the election in accordance with the “constitutionally-recognised” LGAs in Lagos, and not based on the 57 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created by the state, that it intends to use.
“I know that the 57 LCDAs wherein the 2nd defendant intends to conduct elections are a product of the unconstitutional Balkanisation of the 20 constitutionally-recognised LGAs in Lagos State,” he said.