Obanikoro urges court to dismiss suit challenging his citizenship

Former Minister Musiliu Obanikoro
Former Minister Musiliu Obanikoro

A former Minister of Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, on Tuesday asked an Ikeja High Court to dismiss a suit challenging his eligibility to contest for electoral positions in the future.

Mr. Obanikoro, who lost the Lagos State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, gubernatorial primaries on Monday, made the request in a preliminary notice of objection to the suit.

The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the suit was filed by three PDP members, Babatunde Ogun, Suleiman Saheed and Wasiu Adeniyi Odusan.

Joined in the suit as respondents are the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the PDP.

The applicants had asked the court for an order of interim injunction restraining Mr. Obanikoro from participating in the December 8 PDP gubernatorial primaries or that of any other political party.

They had also asked the court to restrain the PDP from nominating Mr. Obanikoro to INEC for the purpose of contesting the 2015 governorship elections in Lagos State or any subsequent elections in Nigeria.

Their counsel, Wahab Shittu, had argued thatMr. Obanikoro was not eligible to contest for any political position in Nigeria.

Mr. Shittu 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.

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

Mr. Shittu claimed that the former Minister of State for Defence had dual citizenship and also presented a forged birth certificate to INEC in Dec. 2006.

However, the Judge, Kazeem Alogba, refused to restrain Mr. Obanikoro from participating in the primaries but adjourned the matter till Tuesday for hearing of the substantive suit.

At the resumption of proceedings, Mr. Obanikoro’s counsel, Gbenga Ojo, said his client had filed a preliminary notice of objection seeking the dismissal of the suit for being an abuse of court processes.

Mr. Ojo also asked for an order striking out the suit on the ground that it does not disclose a reasonable cause of action.

He said: “the case against the first respondent (Obanikoro) is premised on forgery and dual citizenship and there is no evidence of his trial or conviction for the alleged offences.

“In the absence of the conviction, the case is a non-starter.

“All the documents relied upon by the applicants in the suit are either uncertified public documents or documents printed from internet without authentication of the source or certification.”

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

However, counsel to INEC, Juliana Nnadi, said they only received the court processes on Monday morning in their Lagos office and needed time to respond.

Ms. Nnadi asked for an adjournment to enable them file the necessary papers.

Also counsel to the PDP, Samson Ozah, told the court that they were yet to file any process as they only recently got instruction to represent the party.

Following the development, Mr. Alogba ordered all parties to file their applications before the next adjourned date.

The judge adjourned the matter till Jan. 14, 2015, for arguments.



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