Obanikoro's Eligibility Suit: Court fixes March 5 for judgment

OBANIKORO

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro
Senator Musiliu Obanikoro

An Ikeja High Court has fixed March 5 for judgment in a suit seeking to stop a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, from contesting any electoral office in Nigeria.

Justice Kazeem Alogba fixed the date on Thursday after listening to arguments from Obanikoro’s counsel, Mr Gbenga Ojo, and the applicants’ counsel, Mr Wahab Shittu.

NAN reports that three members of the PDP, Messrs Babatunde Ogun, Suleiman Saheed and Wasiu Adeniyi Odusan, filed the suit on Nov. 27, 2014.

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

The court had on Nov. 27, 2014, dismissed their ex-parte motion seeking to restrain Obanikoro from participating in the PDP Lagos governorship primaries which was eventually won by Mr Jimi Agbaje.

However, moving the substantive application, Shittu argued that Obanikoro was not eligible to contest any political position in Nigeria.

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

Shittu exhibited several documents that included an application form bearing Onikoro Musiliu Babatunde in support of the motion.

According to him, the former minister has dual citizenship and also presented a forged birth certificate to the INEC in December 2006.

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

Shittu said: “A democracy is principally founded on the rule of law. At all times, there are two choices to make, whether you want to be guided by the rule of law or by the culture of impunity.

“Your Lordship will decide this issue for history and for posterity.”

Responding, Ojo urged the court to dismiss the suit for being an abuse of court processes, adding that it did not disclose a reasonable cause of action.

“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.”

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