11 political parties have asked a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, to halt the scheduled local government election in Lagos State, due to the failure of the Lagos State Independent Election Commission to register them for the election.
The 11 political parties include 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.
The matter with suit number FHC/L/CS/569/21 has LASIEC, the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Independent National Electoral Commission as its defendants.
Counsel to the political parties, Adesanmi Afolabi, filed a motion ex parte seeking an order of interim injunction restraining LASIEC from conducting the local government election of Lagos State, scheduled to hold on July 24, 2021, pending the hearing and determination of its motion on notice filed on June 18, 2021.
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. He also stated that they had filed a counter affidavit to the plaintiffs’ originating summons.
However, the plaintiffs’ counsel, Adesanmi Afolabi, informed the court that he had filed his response to the counter affidavit of the 2nd defendant, but he has not been able to serve INEC, the third defendant, as they are evading service.
Afolabi then informed the court that he had filed an ex parte application, urging the court to restrain LASIEC from taking any step pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Onigbanjo went on to oppose the hearing of the plaintiffs’ ex parte motion, saying that the procedure is unknown to law.
Accordng to Onigbanjo, the procedure adopted by the plaintiff contradicts the rule of sequence as the motion on notice cannot be filed before the motion ex parte.
The judge in charge of the matter, Justice Akintayo Aluko, scheduled the ruling for July 19, 2021.
The applicants in an affidavit deposed to by Mr Tade 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, the 1st defendant has denied the plaintiffs from participating in the forth coming local government election holding on July 24, 2021.
The plaintiffs along with some other political parties had previously approached the Federal High Court sitting in 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, but judgement was not in their favour.
Dissatisfied with the Federal High Court judgment, the deponent stated that the plaintiffs then approached the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/507/2020. On August 10, 2020, Honourable Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, set aside the decision of the Federal High Court, Abuja and declared INEC’s deregistration of the plaintiffs on February 6, 2020 as unlawful.
The deponent stated, “The plaintiffs briefed their solicitor to put up a letter of intention to participate in the Local Government Election of Lagos State dated May 5, 2021. The letters were duly served on LASIEC and a copy was also served on the state’s Attorney-General.
“However, LASIEC banked on INEC’s deregistration of the plaintiffs and, therefore, restricted the plaintiffs from presenting candidates and participating in the electoral process.
“According to 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 are valid political parties qualified to participate in the Lagos State local government election holding on the July 24, 2021.”
The deponent then stated that the failure of the LASIEC to allow the plaintiffs to present candidates and participate in the forthcoming electoral process is the reason for this application for interim injunction.
He further stated that the plaintiffs’ counsel, Adesanmi Afolabi on July 9, 2021 at about 12 noon, informed him as follows: “It is important that the status quo is maintained pending the determination of the motion on notice filed on June 18, 2021. If the application is not granted and unless the court intervenes, the conduct of the local government election of Lagos State will irregularly alter the status quo, breach the plaintiffs’ rights and render ineffective and nugatory 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 will suffer serious mischief and loss if the application is not granted. It is just and convenient for the court to intervene by granting the application, else the rights of the plaintiffs will be violated.”