Verdict Awaited as Tribunal Concludes Proceedings Over Governor Sanwo-Olu’s Election

  • adopts written addresses from counsels

The Lagos State Governorship Election Tribunal has completed its proceedings concerning the petitions challenging the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Deputy Governor Dr. Obafemi Hamzat. The tribunal, presided over by Justice Arum Igyen Ashom, has indicated that a date for judgment will be communicated to all parties after their respective legal representatives present their final written arguments.

Dr. Olajide Adediran, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate commonly known as Jandor, and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party have lodged petitions contesting the victory of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governorship candidate of the All-Progressives Congress (APC), and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat. These challenges stem from the declaration made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the gubernatorial elections on March 18 in Lagos State.

In a session held on Saturday, the third respondent, Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat, was present in court, while the two petitioners were absent.

Governor Sanwo-Olu’s legal representative, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, in his address, urged the court to dismiss the petitions filed by the Labour Party and the PDP, asserting that they lacked merit and were merely academic exercises. He pointed out that the petition did not make reference to the deputy governor, but instead focused on the third respondent.

Chief Olanipekun also contended that the allegations about Deputy Governor Hamzat’s non-qualification were unsubstantiated, as the claims of renunciation of Nigerian citizenship and the oath of allegiance to the United States were inadequately proven.

Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, representing the APC, aligned with this argument, emphasizing that the petitioner’s claims about the deputy governor’s citizenship were not sufficiently supported by evidence.

On the other hand, Olatunji Benson, the counsel for the Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, advocated for the removal of Governor Sanwo-Olu and Deputy Governor Hamzat from office, asserting their alleged disqualification and advocating for the petitioner to be declared the rightful governor of Lagos State.

Clement Onwuenwunor, the legal representative for the PDP, argued in his final written address that the disparities between Governor Sanwo-Olu’s WAEC statement of results, his Master’s list, and his first- and second-degree certificates indicated forgery and dishonesty, rendering him ineligible for the position of governor.

Additionally, Onwuenwunor contended that Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour’s absence from the updated Membership Register of the Labour Party submitted to INEC undermined his eligibility to contest the March 18th Governorship election in Lagos state.

In response, INEC’s legal counsel, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Charles Edosonwan, urged the tribunal to dismiss Rhodes-Vivour’s petition due to a lack of compelling 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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