The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Tuesday faulted the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairmanship candidate in the October 22 Lagos State council polls, Mr. Babajide Obanikoro, describing it as incompetent.
The ACN told the state’s Local Government Election Petitions Tribunal chaired by Retired Justice Dolapo Akinsanya, that the petition against the party’s candidate at the election, Mr. Adewale Adedeji, should not be entertained.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reported that Obanikoro, son of Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, had challenged the victory of Adedeji as the chairman of Ikoyi-Obalende Local Council Development Area (LCDA). Joined in the suit is the State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC).
During Tuesday’s proceedings, Adedeji, in a preliminary Notice of Objection filed by his counsel, Mr Olushina Sofola, said the petition was “defective and incompetent”, stressing that the statement on oath by the petitioner’s 27 witnesses was not signed.
He said: “Section 117 (4) of the Evidence Act says that anyone swearing an affidavit must sign it. The provision of this section clearly speaks for itself.
“An affidavit that is not signed cannot be relied on. I will be urging the court to strike out the statement on oath of those 27 witnesses because the court lacks jurisdiction to rely on a statement on oath that is not signed.
According to the counsel, the irregularity in the statement of oath was fundamental and cannot be overlooked as it did not comply with the provisions of the Evidence Act.
Opposing the application, Obanikoro’s Counsel, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, urged the tribunal to dismiss the application, saying it is premature and defective.
He faulted Sofola’s argument that the statement on oath by 27 witnesses of the petitioner did not comply with Section 117(4) of the Evidence Act because it was not signed, saying: “Witnesses' statements are distinct and different from ordinary affidavit evidence. Therefore, the position taken by the respondent concerning the witnesses’ statements does not hold water.
“I have 10 witnesses in court and they are ready to come here and adopt it. Therefore, this objection is premature and I urge your lordships to dismiss the application,” he said.
Ayorinde also noted that the application was not accompanied by a written address when it was served on the parties, adding that this had made it incompetent.
He added: “The rules provide that the process must be accompanied by a written address, which was not done. Any apology being tendered by the first respondent is belated and this was highlighted in our reply on point of law.”
The tribunal has fixed ruling on the application for December 21.