The hearing in the petition filed by the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, seeking to nullify the return of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Deputy was stalled at the Tribunal on Monday owing to the absence of the petitioners’ witness.
The witness was scheduled to testify before the Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal headed by Justice Arum Ashom.
So far, the petitioner, Rhodes-Vivour has called 10 witnesses in proof of his petition. Monday’s witness would have been the 11th.
At a previous sitting, the petitioner indicated that he would call about 30 witnesses in proof of his petition. He had also presented over 20,000 documents before the Tribunal.
At the proceedings on Monday, the lead counsel for the petitioner, Olumide Ayeni (SAN) was absent but the counsel who held his brief, Idowu Benson, told the Tribunal that the witness came to the court earlier but had to leave for medical attention when his health condition deteriorated before the day’s proceedings commenced.
The counsel asked the Tribunal to grant a short adjournment of the proceedings till the next day.
He said, “The witness complained of feeling ill after waiting for some time and then excused himself that he needed to go to the hospital. We have informed the other counsel and craved their understanding.”
Counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Eric Ogiegor; and Segun Ajibola, counsel representing Sanwo-Olu, and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat did not object to the application for an adjournment.
Counsel for the All Progressives Congress, Norrison Quakers (SAN), also said he has no objection since it was a health-related issue.
Quakers said, “The witness of the Tribunal had a health challenge. If tomorrow (Tuesday) is convenient, we can come back tomorrow, except they have another witness.”
After taking the submissions of all parties, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Ashom, subsequently adjourned hearing to Tuesday, July 4, 2023 for continuation.
Rhodes-Vivour, who scored 257,502 in the March 18, 2023 elections, is seeking an order of the Tribunal nullifying the election of Sanwo-Olu and his deputy on grounds that they were not qualified to contest the election.
He asked the Tribunal to disqualify the governor for “non-compliance” with the Electoral Act 2022 and the guidelines of INEC and to declare him winner of the election.
Rhodes-Vivour also argued that the governor was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.
INEC, Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat and the APC are 1st to 4th respondents in the petition.