The Lagos governor, Ambode Akinwunmi, has defeated his major contender in April 11 governorship election, Jimi Agbaje, at the Appeal Court.
Agbaje, who contested on the platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP) had dragged Ambode of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the appellate court after the verdict of Lagos State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal did not favour him.
The Appeal Court division sitting in Lagos, however, on Wednesday delivered its judgment affirming the verdict of the Election Petitions Tribunal, which upheld the declaration of Ambode as the winner of the election.
The appellate court concurred with the decision the Justice Muhammad Sijaro-led tribunal which declared as incompetent the petition of Agbaje and therefore struck it out on July 1, 2015.
Apart from dismissing Agbaje’s appeal on the ground of incompetence, the appellate court also ordered him to compensate each of the respondents in the sum of N50,000 each.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ambode polled 811,994 votes in the April election while Agbaje garnered 659,788 votes.
Reacting to the judgment, Ambode said the ruling was a vindication of peoples’ mandate.
“The decision of the Appeal Court is a further testimony to the affirmation of our victory by the tribunal and a vindication of the mandate of the people as expressed in the April, 11 2015 elections,” the governor said through a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna.
He called on his oppositions to join hands with him to develop the state saying, “. I’ve consistently maintained my administration’s desire to work with all Lagosian, no matter the party.”
But the state PDP kicked maintaining that the ruling was “a controversial legal victory and not a moral victory”.
Taofik Gani, the party Publicity Secretary, said in a statement that “The Appeal Court justices identified a loophole of technicality in our petition. They agreed, that but for the identified mistake in couching our petition, the decision would have been different in the circumstance of the Lagos governorship election contest.”
He, however, added that the party did not rule out the possibility of pursuing the case to the Supreme Court.
“Indeed, the Court of Appeal upheld that the issue of the qualification of Ambode in the election was erroneously dismissed by the tribunal. This is definitely a confusing judgment. The justices have their conscience to contend with if they have done actual justice in the matter. We will meet with our legal team for further advice and we shall consider all consequential options. An appeal to the Supreme Court is not ruled out”, the statement read in part.
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