Election Tribunal Reserves Judgment against Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat

Election Tribunal Reserves Judgment against Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat

Segun James

The Lagos State Governorship Election Tribunal has reserved judgment in the petitions against the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat. 

The tribunal, led by Justice Arum Ashom said it would communicate a date for judgment to the parties after counsels adopted their final written addresses. 

The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Dr Olajide Adediran, popularly called Jandor and his Labour Party counterpart, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, are challenging the return of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as well as his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the March 18 governorship elections in Lagos State.

While the two petitioners were absent, the third respondent, Hamzat was present in court yesterday.

INEC is the first respondent in the petition, while Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat are listed as the second and third respondents respectively. The APC is listed as the fourth respondent.

Adopting his address, Sanwo-Olu’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, asked the court to dismiss the petitions of the Labour Party and that of the PDP for lacking in merit and a mere academic exercise. 

He noted that there was no reference to the second respondent. Instead, the address dwelt on the third respondent.

He said the matter of non-qualification of the deputy governor as claimed by the Labour Party was no issue as the allegation of his renunciation of Nigerian citizenship and the swearing of oath of allegiance to the United States were not sufficiently proven. 

Similarly, counsel to APC, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN) contended that the argument of the petitioner about citizenship of the deputy governor were not duly proven by the petitioners. 

Olatunji Benson, counsel to Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, asked the tribunal to hold the position of his clients that the deputy governor did not qualify to contest and he and the governor should be removed from office and the petitioner declared as the governor of Lagos State.

Adopting his final written address, counsel to the PDP, Clement Onwuenwunor, argued that “the discrepancies in Sanwo-Olu’s West African Examination Council statement of results and the names on the Master’s list provided by WAEC, which is also different from what is on his first and second-degree certificate has vindicated the Petitioner that his WAEC statement of result is in question and lied on oath, and therefore was not qualified to be governor.”

He also argued that Rhodes-Vivour whose name did not appear on the updated Membership Register of Labour Party presented to INEC and tendered at the tribunal, also did not qualify him to run for the March 18th governorship election in Lagos State.

Counsel for INEC, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Charles Edosonwan, in the adoption of his final written address asked the Tribunal to dismiss Rhodes-Viviour’s petition for lack of evidence.

He said, “One of the issues raised by the petitioner is whether the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act? On this issue, we say that they have provided no scintilla of proof to show it wasn’t. 

“A petition erected on such an allegation was sought to be proven by 10 witnesses in a state that has 13,325 polling units. The petition is materially challenged.”

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