The Lagos State Election Petition Tribunal has reached a decision to withhold judgment in response to two petitions challenging the re-election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat.
Overseeing the proceedings, Justice Arum Ashom, who leads the three-man tribunal, disclosed on Saturday that the date for the judgment would be communicated to all parties involved, following the adoption of final written addresses by the respective counsels.
The Labour Party’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and Abdulazeez Adeniran, also known as Jandor, from the Peoples Democratic Party, have both lodged challenges against the re-election of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat, who belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the petitions, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stands as the first respondent, while Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat, and the APC hold positions as the second, third, and fourth respondents, respectively.
The governorship election in question took place on March 18. Although the two petitioners were absent from the court on the specified Saturday, Hamzat was present to represent himself.
During the session, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), representing Sanwo-Olu, urged the court to dismiss the petitions due to their perceived lack of merit.
Olanipekun contended that the petitions appeared to be more of an academic exercise than a substantiated challenge.
Olanipekun further pointed out that the petitioners’ arguments failed to reference the second respondent (Hamzat), focusing solely on the third respondent (Sanwo-Olu).
“They have abandoned their petitions and also abandoned any issues against the second respondent,” he emphasized.
Regarding the allegations made by Rhodes-Vivour about the deputy governor’s qualifications, Olanipekun dismissed them as having no substance.
Moreover, Olanipekun argued that the accusations concerning Hamzat’s renunciation of Nigerian citizenship and allegiance to the U.S. were inadequately supported and not conclusively proven.
Similarly, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), who represents the APC, argued that the petitioners’ claims about Hamzat’s citizenship lacked substantial proof.
Representing INEC, Charles Edosonwan (SAN) echoed the sentiment, stating that the petitions should be dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
Edosonwan highlighted the petitioners’ assertion that the election did not adhere to the Electoral Act’s requirements. He refuted this, stating, “We say that they have provided no scintilla of proof to show it wasn’t.”
He further pointed out the discrepancy between the number of witnesses presented and the vast number of polling units in the state, indicating a substantial challenge to the petition’s credibility.
Olatunji Benson, the counsel for the Labour Party and its Governorship Candidate, Rhodes-Vivour, maintained his clients’ stance that Hamzat did not meet the qualifications for contesting the election.
He urged the tribunal to remove Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat from office and declare Rhodes-Vivour as the governor of Lagos State.
Similarly, Clement Onwuenwunor, representing the PDP, argued in his final written address that Sanwo-Olu lacked a secondary school leaving certificate, rendering him unqualified for the governor’s position.
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