1st November, 2011
The appeal filed by the Labour Party candidate, Oladapo Durosinmi-Etti, against Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, the Action Congress of Nigeria, CAN, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was resolved in favour of the Labour Party this evening.
Citing series of authorities, the court said that in electoral matters, the court should take a liberal view and not dwell on technicalities.
Consequently, the court resolved the appeal in favour of the Labour Party.
The case is to be remitted back to the tribunal. The President of the Court of Appeal is to constitute another tribunal to hear the matter and the case should be determined on its merits.
The tribunal, however, dismissed the case filed by Oladapo Durosinmi-Etti against Oluremi Tinubu, INEC and ACN.
Mrs. Tinubu was declared winner of the Lagos Central Senatorial District in the election conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, on 9 April, 2011.
The judgment had earlier been fixed for this morning by the lead judge, Justice Helen Ogunwumiju. But it was stood down till later today.
The two parties had earlier made their submissions. Counsel for Labour Party, Chief Chukwuma Ekwurumadu, SAN, had contended in his submission that Durosinmi-Ettiâ€™s petition was dismissed by the tribunal because the petitionerâ€™s application for pre-hearing notice was done through a letter to the secretary of the tribunal and not by a motion.
Therefore, the counsel argued that the tribunal failed to follow a recent decision of the Court of Appeal in the interpretation of the Electoral Act to the effect that it does not matter if the petitionerâ€™s application for pre-hearing notice was done by a motion or by a simple letter.
â€œIt is the failure to make request for pre-hearing notice that is vital and not the method of making it,â€ the Labour Party counsel said.
He then urged the Court of Appeal to order a fresh election.
In his submission, ACN and Oluremi Tinubuâ€™s counsel, Professor Yemi Osibajo, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the appeal, adding that there was no relief before the court seeking the nullification of the election.
Osibajo further argued that nullification of the election is a condition precedent before an order for fresh election could be made.
On the issue of pre-hearing notice, Osibajo argued that in a judgment of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto in the case of Seidu Usman Nasamu versus Mallam Abubakar Abubakar delivered on 23 September, 2011, the court held that the hearing notice should be by way of motion to the tribunal and not mere letter.
Labour Party and Durosinmi-Etti in two separate petitions challenged the election of Chief Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu on non-appearance of the partyâ€™s logo on the ballot paper, thereby urging the tribunal to annul the first respondentâ€™s election.
By Akin Kuponiyi