By Gbenga Faturoti
The Osun State High Court on Thursday, January 11, 2018 adjourned hearing on the suit challenging the State Independent Electoral Commission (OSSIEC) from conducting the proposed local government elections in the state to Tuesday, January 23.
OSSIEC had announced its plan to conduct the state councils’ polls on Saturday, January 27, 2018 but a human right activist, Barrister Kanmi Ajibola, approached the court, urging it to declare as unconstitutional and illegal the electoral law which proposed parliamentary system for the exercise.
The lawyer dragged the governor, the state lawmakers, OSSIEC, All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and six other political parties to court calling for the immediate stoppage of the council’s election and the sacking of all the electoral body members.
Ajibola stated that the makers of the law, the “State of Osun House of Assembly” and the person who signed it the “Governor of the State of Osun” and the law itself the “State of Osun Local Government Areas (creation and administration) Law, 2015” upon which the processes of the election are based are strangers to the 1999 constitution and are non-existing.
In the suit which he filed on November 6, 2017 the plaintiff contended in a 56-paragraph affidavit that he was billed to contest the Chairmanship election under the platform of PDP and was already adopted as a sole candidate in Oriade Local Government.
In his originating summons, Ajibola sought for 13 reliefs and these include a declaration that the “State of Osun Local Government Areas (creation and administration) Law, 2015” and “State of Osun Local Government Areas (creation and administration) amendment (No.1) Law, 2017” having been enacted by the legislative body that is not known to the constitution and for the State not known to the 1999 constitution, and having been assented to by the governor in that manner, they are as such illegal and unconstitutional.
He wanted the court to set aside the “State of Osun Local Government Areas Law, 2015” and “State of Osun Local Government Areas amendment (No.1) Law, 2017 ”having been enacted by the legislative body that is not known to the constitution and for the state not known to the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
But at the hearing of the matter before Justice Kola Adegoke of High Court 3, Ilesa Judicial Division, counsel to the State House of Assembly, Barrister Rachael Ojinni, through a letter asked the court to adjourn the suit to either January 23 or January 25.
According to Ojinni, who is the Head of Legal Services of the Assembly, she will be attending another important and similar matter at the Federal High Court, Abuja today (January 11).
But, counsel to Ajibola, Barrister Samuel Encheowu, raised objection to the letter, urging the court to jettison the request as it was a trap to buy time as the proposed election was slated for January 27 and that he had filed an interlocutory injunction on the matter which the court needs to hear.
“I also raised objection to this letter because the heading of the letter itself bares ‘State of Osun House of Assembly’. The court should take judicial notice that ‘State of Osun’ has been declared illegal, so, the letter has no relevance here”, he stated.
But counsel to 1st and 3rd respondents, the state governor and the state government, Barrister Abiodun Badiora and counsels to OSSIEC, Barrister Olabisi Babatunde and that of other defendants said they have no objection to the adjournment of the suit in the interest of justice.
However, another political party, the United Democratic Party (UDP) has instituted a joinder in the matter as an interested party.
In his ruling, Justice Adegoke who adjourned the case till January 23, maintained that in the interest of justice, all parties must be given fair hearing on the matter.
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