The Court of Appeal in Lagos Monday fixed June 15, 2015 for hearing of an objection raised by former Lagos State Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, challenging the bid by his opponent, Hakeem Masha to amend the notice of appeal in the tussle over Lagos Island Constituency 1 ticket of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Eshilokun and Masha (both APC members) are currently locked in fierce battle over the assembly seat.
Eshilokun had polled 186 votes to beat seven other candidates in the primary election conducted by the APC to select a candidate for Lagos Island Constituency 1.
However, he was substituted with Masha, who polled 70 votes, thus forcing the applicant (Eshilokun) to file a suit before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos. Justice Buba, had in his judgement, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Eshilokun as the candidate of the party, saying the evidence before him showed clearly that he (Eshilokun) won the APC primary, and that same was not controverted.
Dissatisfied, Masha, through his lawyer, Badejo Bonajo (SAN) appealed the verdict, and urged the appellate court to upturn it.
When the matter came up Monday at the Lagos Division of Appeal Court, Bonajo indicated interest in amending one of the three notices of appeal which he filed but Eshilokun’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu objected, saying the move was an attempt to place something on nothing.
Shittu pointed out that Masha filed three notices of appeal. One was dated March 6; the second, March 26 and the third, May 14.
The lawyer said those of March 6 and 26 were wrongly headed the Federal High Court, whereas they were for Appeal Court.
The May 14 notice, according to Shittu, was incompetent ab initio, and so the question of amendment does not even arise.
He said the notice was of mixed law and facts, and that the leave of court was required before such notice could be filed, which was not done in the instant case.
However, INEC’s lawyer asked for time to respond to the amendment, an application that prompted the court presided over by Justice Sidi Bage to adjourn till June 15.
In his judgment, Justice Buba, who cited a plethora of authorities, held that the suit was initiated with due process, and that from the records, it was clear that the parties were adequately and properly served.
On the issue of waiver, the judge ruled that the argument of Masha was neither here nor there, and that the APC had, by action, granted Eshilokun waiver by clearing him to contest the primary election after he had duly paid the required fees.
The judge added that it was instructive that the defendants never controverted the fact that Eshilokun contested and won the primary election and that his name was initially forwarded to INEC as the candidate of the APC.