Temporary relief came the way of the Labour Party and two other political parties and their governorship candidates on Monday as the Federal High Court in Lagos granted an interim injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from using, engaging or further dealing with the chairman of the Lagos Parks and Garages, Musiliu Akinsanya (aka MC Oluomo) or any of his representatives in the distribution of election materials and adhoc staff for the coming elections in the state.
The court also granted the plea by the applicants’ counsel for abridgement of time to hear the substantive suit because of the fast approaching elections and adjourned hearing to Wednesday, February 22.
The presiding judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, granted the interim interlocutory injunction after listening to an application filed by the Labour Party and its governorship candidate in Lagos State, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the African Democratic Congress and its candidate, Funsho Doherty, and the Boot Party and its candidate, Wale Oluwo.
The applicants’ counsel, Abass Arisekola, while urging the court to grant the interim order, moved the application with an affidavit of urgency brought pursuant to section 13(3) of the Federal High Court Act, Laws Of The Federation Of Nigeria 2004; Order 26 Rules 8 and 9, Order 28 Rule 1(2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, and under the court’s inherent jurisdiction.
He told the court that among the grounds for orders sought include the fact that his clients who are plaintiffs/applicants will be severely threatened by a lack of free and fair elections in Lagos State, saying that “It is in the interest of justice to restrain INEC from taking any step or further steps that may foist a fait accompli on the substantive suit”.
MC Oluomo is believed to be loyal to the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
After listening to the counsel, Justice Aneke said, “I have listened to the submission of counsel and also perused the motion with affidavit of urgency and the grounds for the application. I found merit in the application. The order of interlocutory injunction is hereby granted.”
Thereafter, the applicants’ counsel pleaded for an abridgement of time to hear the substantive suit, which was also granted.
INEC, the only defendant in the suit, was reportedly absent at the proceedings, though the applicants’ counsel told the court that the electoral commission was served with the court papers.
Justice Aneke, in granting the application for abridgement of time, ordered that all the processes in the suit be served on INEC.
It would be recalled that the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos, Olusegun Agbaje, had earlier in February said the electoral body would work with the Lagos State Parks Management Committee headed by MC Oluomo in the distribution of election materials and personnel across the state, a revelation which triggered reactions from political parties, including the camp of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, which warned INEC of the consequences of such a move.