A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday declined to make an order of status quo ante that would have suspended the local government elections in Lagos slated for Saturday, July 24, 2021.
The presiding judge , Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, rather, adjourned till November 29, proceedings in the suit filed by 11 political parties.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke gave the ruling after upholding the argument of counsel to the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Mr Kemi Pinheiro, SAN.
The 11 parties are Alliance for Social Democrats; All Grand Alliance Party; Change Advocacy Party; Mega Party of Nigeria; Progressive People’s Alliance; Save Nigeria Congress; We The People’s of Nigeria; Young Democratic Party; Advanced Congress of Democrats and Mass Movement of Nigeria.
Joined as first to third defendants/respondents in the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/569/21 are LASIEC; Lagos Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
The plaintiffs’ grouse is that LASIEC allegedly failed to register them for the election.
At the resumption of proceedings, Monday, other political parties including the African Action Congress (AAC), African Peoples Movement (APM) and BOOT informed the court of their intention to join as plaintiffs.
Responding, Pinheiro prayed the court to adjourn proceedings till after the annual vacation of the court because, among others, the intending parties who said they had filed a notice to join the suit, had yet to serve him and until that was done, the case could not go on.
He argued further that the failure of any party to comply with the law guiding the issue of service would rob the court of jurisdiction to entertain the case because “service is very fundamental before a case can be properly adjudicated on.”
When the plaintiffs’ counsel Mr Taiwo Alabi suggested that given the development, it was reasonable that the court should issue an order of status quo ante bellum i.e. parties should stay action until the determination of the case pending in court, Pinheiro opposed him.
He submitted that Alabi’s offer was a trap “which the court must not fall for” adding that the Appeal Court had stated on different occasions that the court should not entertain that type of approach.
“How can the plaintiff in the face of various applications for joinder filed by different parties which are yet to be served on me, and a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court from entertaining the case filed by us, be seeking the order of status quo?
“I pray the court to adjourn further proceedings in this case till after the annual vacation of the court which is starting on the 26th of July,” Pinheiro added.
Granting his application, Justice Aneke adjourned till November 29 for the hearing of all applications.
He advised the plaintiffs to approach the vacation judge during vacation.