Tribunal Upholds LP’s Onuakalusi, Dismisses APC’s Petition
The National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has upheld the election of Jesse Okey-Joe Onuakalusi of the Labour Party (LP) as the duly elected House of Representatives’ member for Constituency ll, Oshodi-Isolo, Lagos.
In a unanimous decision, the tribunal dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s Ganiyu Johnson.
The three-man panel led by Justice Abass Abdullahi held that the “petitioner lacked the legal right to meddle or interfere into the conduct of the primaries of a political party of when he is not a member of an aspirant in the said primaries”.
The other members of the panel are Justice Okon Okon and Justice Esther Alukwu.
Johnson, a former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, represented the constituency in the last four years after winning the APC ticket in 2019. He lost his re-election bid to the LP’s Onuakalusi who polled 29,386 votes in the election to his 16,650 votes.
Dissatisfied with the results, Johnson instituted the petition against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who was listed as the first respondent and Onuakalusi and LP who were listed as the 2nd and 3rd respondents in the petition.
Johnson had brought his petition on the following grounds:
(1) That following the conduct of the primaries of LP on May 28th 2022, one Augustine Chiagozie Matthew emerged as the winner of the primaries.
(2) That LP refused/failed to forward the name of the said Augustine Chiagozie Matthew to INEC as its candidate.
(3) That the name of said Augustine was not substituted or withdrawn.
(4) That Jesse Okey-Joe Onuakalusi‘s name is not on the register of members of the LP submitted to INEC as he was not duly sponsored as a candidate by the party.
(5) That Onuakalusi’s personal particulars in Form EC9 was not submitted prior to the conduct of the elections of Feb. 25, 2023.
To support his petition, the petitioner called three witnesses and tendered several documents.
In its 100-paged-judgment on the petition, the tribunal agreed with the 2nd respondent that the challenge to the primaries that produced the said Augustine Chiagozie Matthew has been put to rest by the decision of the Federal High Court and the Supreme Court and same cannot be revived before the tribunal.
On the issue of membership of the second respondent, the Tribunal held that this is both a pre and post election issue. It also held that the Secretary of the Okota ward 3 is in a better position to testify as the issue of membership has long been held to be an internal affair of a party.
In his reaction after the judgment, counsel for the petitioner, Habeeb Lawal said his client has a right of appeal within 21 days and may choose to exercise that option.
Counsel for Onuakalusi, Okwy Ejezie, said with this judgment, the LP victory in Lagos has been confirmed and the party expects more to come.