By Ibeawuchi Uwaleke
A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly representing Amuwo Odofin Constituency 2, Mr. Akeem Bello will know his fate today when a Federal High Court sitting at Ikoyi, Lagos will deliver judgment on a contentious issue he brought before the court asking it to allow him return to the people’s parliament of Lagos to continue to represent Amuwo Odofin Constituency 2 in the 9th Assembly.
He is being challenged by an opponent, Rauf Wale, who joined issue with him by asking the court to refuse Bello’s application praying it to clear the hurdles for him to make it to the Lagos State 9th Assembly next month.
According to Wale, Bello wants to usurp the mandate freely given to him by his people at the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) primaries which culminated at the general election in which he won and his name forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which thereafter published it last January as required by law.
But Bello from his originating summons dated February 7, 2019 is contending that he was the one that won the primaries to be reelected to the Lagos State House of Assembly (LASHA), after Wale did a voluntary withdrawal due to party decision for him to do a second term.
He said when the party recognised that he was the right candidate to represent Amuwo Odofin 2 the party wrote to INEC informing it to substitute Wale’s name with his name as the cause of action was within the time permitted by law, but INEC adamantly ignored to effect the change by allowing Wale’s name to remain in the list of elected members of LASHA for 2019.
Bello’s lawyer, Mr.Wahab Sittu, a renowned senior counsel who led other lawyers to press for his client’s case was persuaded by some authorities including Tukur vs. UBA, PDP vs. Sylva and Wema Bank vs.IIC (2011) 6 NWLR, Pt.479 to submit that the choice of a political party to sponsor a candidate for an election cannot be questioned by INEC, nor can the electoral body lawfully refuse a substitution of a candidate nominated by a party within the time line allowed by the Electoral Act.
Unfortunately INEC was not in court to join issue with Bello and Wale, therefore the court concluded arguments on the matter without hearing from the electoral umpire.
But Wale’s lawyer, Mr. Obaderan asked the court to dismiss the entire suit brought by Bello as it lacked merit and frivolous in nature, adding that the applicant failed woefully to prove his case and to convince the court that he is the right candidate to represent Amuwo Odofin Constituency 2 in the Lagos Assembly.
Justice Ayotunde Faji who presided over the proceedings will decide today which of the contenders is legible to represent Amuwo Odofin Constituency 2 in LASHA.