Court strikes out eligibility suit against Obanikoro

Musiliu Obanikoro

An Ikeja High Court has struck out a suit seeking to stop Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, from contesting for any elective office in Nigeria.

Justice Kazeem Alogba struck out the suit filed by three members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a ruling delivered on Thursday.

He held that the originating summons was incurably defective and lacking in merit.

The PDP members, namely, Babatunde Ogun, Suleiman Saheed and Wasiu Adeniyi Odusan, had filed the suit on Nov.17, 2014.

Joined in the suit as respondents were the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the PDP.

The court had earlier dismissed their ex parte motion seeking to restrain Mr. Obanikoro from participating in the PDP Lagos governorship primaries which was eventually won by Jimi Agbaje.

However, moving the substantive application, the plaintiffs’ counsel, Wahab Shittu, had argued that Mr. Obanikoro was not eligible to contest for any political position in Nigeria.

He said this was based on the provision of Paragraph 4 (a) of Part iv of the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections, 2014 of the INEC.

Mr. Shittu had exhibited several documents including an application form bearing Onikoro Musiliu Babatunde in support of the motion.

He had alleged that the former Minister of State for Defence had dual citizenship and also presented a forged birth certificate to the INEC in December 2006.

Mr. Shittu said whatever judgment arrived at by the court would become an important reference point on the nation’s political landscape.

Responding, Mr. Obanikoro’s counsel, Gbenga Ojo, had urged the court to dismiss the suit for being an abuse of court processes as it did not disclose a reasonable cause of action.

Mr. Ojo said the case against the first respondent (Obanikoro) was premised on forgery and dual citizenship and there was no evidence of his trial or conviction for the alleged offences.

According to him, all the documents relied upon by the applicants in the suit were either uncertified public documents or documents printed from internet without authentication of the source or certification.

Mr. Ojo further argued that the suit was a mere academic exercise since Mr. Obanikoro failed to clinch the PDP’s gubernatorial ticket for the state.

In his ruling, the judge held that the originating summons lacked admissible evidence because all the documents tendered by the applicants were not certified true copies.

According to him, some of the documents exhibited were gotten from the internet or mere photocopies which violate the provisions of Sections 105 and 106 of the Evidence Act 2011.

Mr. Alogba said that legally admissible evidence to substantiate the very serious allegations of forgery and perjury against Obanikoro had not been produced by the applicants.

He noted that the onus rested on the applicants to prove their case against Obanikoro which they had failed to do in the originating summons.

The judge said: “The applicants did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act thus making the originating summons incurably defective.

 “From the above reasons, it is my view that the originating summons is incompetent, lacks merit and is likely to be struck out.

 “It robs the court of jurisdiction to adjudicate on the merit of other issues raised as it has become only academic. This application is hereby struck out.”

(NAN)

 


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