The Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has adjourned till final judgment its ruling on an application filed by the Governor of Lagos State & his deputy challenging the entire petition filed by Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the Labour Party’s candidate, in the March 18 election.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Arum Ashom also adjourned till final judgment, a similar application filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission seeking to strike out the petition, at this preliminary stage, for being incompetent.
At the proceedings of the panel on Saturday, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Wole Olanipekun argued the application challenging Rhodes-Vivour’s entire petition on behalf of his clients, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu & his deputy, Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat.
The application was brought pursuant to Section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution(as amended), Paragraphs 18(7)(D), & 47(1) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022, Order 25 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 and Paragraph 5(B) of the Election Judicial Proceedings Practice Directions, 2022 as well as under the inherent jurisdiction of the tribunal.
It seeks AN ORDER OF THE HONOURABLE TRIBUNAL, striking out and/or dismissing the petition for being incompetent, fundamentally defective and vesting no jurisdiction on the tribunal to adjudicate on it.
The application also disclosed that the entire petition of Rhodes-Vivour is improperly constituted as the petitioner has not disclosed a valid right to present it.
Chief Olanipekun particularly pointed out that the foundation and premise of the petitioner’s alleged right to present the petition is that he was a candidate on the platform of the Labour Party, LP which has not been listed as a party to the petition.
Indeed Rhodes-Vivour is the sole petitioner in his petition before the tribunal.
The respondents also pointed out that Obafemi Hamzat was sued as a party in the petition simply because he was a deputy governorship candidate and none of the grounds of Rhodes-Vivour’s petition specifically referenced or makes any complaint about him. They therefore urged the Tribunal to strike out all the pleadings in the petition that relates to him.
On the contractual relationship between INEC and one Amazon Web services, the respondents say there is no allegation in the petition that parties to the contract did not fulfill their mutual obligations.
They therefore asked the Tribunal to hold that the entire petition is inherently contradictory, incompatible with the Electoral Act, 2022 and has not vested the tribunal with the vires to assume jurisdiction over it.
In his response to the application, Rhodes-Vivour through his lead counsel, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olumide Ayeni submitted that Section 133 (1) Electoral Act, 2022 allows the Petitioner to elect to present his Petition alone with or without his sponsoring political party and no violation of Paragraph 4(1)(b) First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022 vitiating the Petition is disclosed as concerns the right or “valid” right of the Petitioner to present this Petition.
“That there is no “recusal of the Labour Party from filing a Petition to challenge the 18th March, 2023 Governorship Election in Lagos State” nor is the election of the Petitioner to present the Petition alone pursuant to Section 133(1) Electoral Act, 2022 tantamount to “an acceptance of the results of the election by Labour Party”.
The Petitioner also argued that for the Governor to be effectively qualified to contest the election, there is constitutionally required a qualified person to be his Deputy Governorship Candidate; and Obafemi Hamzat was not a qualified person to contest on the joint ticket by the combined effect of Sections 177, 182(1)(a) and 187 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Rhodes-Vivour insisted that his Petition is clear, straightforward, devoid of contradictions and is not in any way “inherently contradictory”. He urged the Tribunal in the interest of justice to dismiss the application filed by the Governor and his deputy.
After listening to arguments on the application, parties agreed on the number of witnesses to be called and the time to be allotted to each witness to testify. They also agreed to file their list on the issues for the tribunal’s determination. The tribunal has also directed that scheduling of documents should be done by all parties on or before Friday, June the 16th.
Justice Ashom has adjourned further proceedings in the petition till Monday June 5th when it will rule on the application by the Petitioner seeking to consolidate his petition with that of the PDP and it’s candidate, Olajide Adediran (popularly known as Jandor) and also the application of the petitioner seeking leave of the tribunal to call additional witnesses.