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Tribunal reserves judgment in petitions against Sanwo-Olu’s re-election

By Itohan Abara-Laserian

Ikeja, Aug. 12, 2023

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

The three-man tribunal led by Justice Arum Ashom, on Saturday, said it would communicate the date for the judgment to the parties in the petition.

Ashom made this known after counsel to the parties adopted final written addresses.

Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP) and Abdulazeez Adeniran (a.k.a. Jandor) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are challenging the re-election of Sanwo-Olu and Hazmat of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the first respondent in the petition, while Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat are the second and third respondents, respectively.

APC is the fourth respondent.

The governorship election took place on March 18.

The two petitioners were absent in court on Saturday but Hamzat was present.

Sanwo-Olu’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), while adopting his final written address, asked the court to dismiss the petitions for lack of merit.

He described the petitions as an academic exercise.

He said that there was no reference to the second respondent in the addresses of the petitioners, adding that the addresses dwelt on the third respondent.

“They have abandoned their petitions and also abandoned any issues against the second respondent.”

He said that non-qualification of the deputy governor for the election as claimed by Rhodes-Vivour had no substance.

Olanipekun argued that the allegation of Hamzat’s renunciation of Nigerian citizenship and swearing to oath of allegiance to the U.S. were not sufficiently proven.

Similarly, counsel to APC, Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), submitted that the argument about Hamzat’s citizenship was not duly proven by the petitioners.

Counsel to INEC, Mr. Charles Edosonwan (SAN), in adopting his final written address, asked the Tribunal to dismiss the petitions for lack of evidence.

He said: “One of the issues raised by the petitioners is whether the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.

“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,” he said.

Mr. Olatunji Benson, counsel to LP and its Governorship Candidate, Rhodes-Vivour, asked the tribunal to uphold the position of his clients that Hamzat did not qualify to contest the election.

He prayed the tribunal to remove Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat from office and declare Rhodes-Vivour the governor of Lagos State.

Also adopting his final written address, counsel to PDP, Mr. Clement Onwuenwunor, argued that Sanwo-Olu did not have a secondary school leaving certificate and, therefore, was not qualified to be governor.

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