The Lagos Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has fixed Friday, June 2, 2023, for ruling on whether to strike out an application filed by the Labour Party, LP’s candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, for lack of jurisdiction.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Arum Igyen Ashom fixed the date after taking submissions from Counsels in the matter.
Other members of the tribunal are, Justice Mikail Abdullahi and Justice I.P. Braimoh.
The appellant, Rhodes-Vivour is seeking an order to nullify the election of Governor Babajide SanwoOlu and his Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat on grounds that they were not qualified to contest the March 18 governorship election.
He asked the tribunal to disqualify the governor for “non-compliance” with the Electoral Act 2022 and the guidelines of INEC, and declare him winner of the election.
Rhodes-Vivour also argued that Governor SanwoOlu was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; Governor SanwoOlu; Dr Hamzat and the All Progressives Congress, APC, are 1st to 4th respondents in the petition.
During Thursday’s proceedings, Counsel to the petitioner, Dr Olumide Ayeni, SAN, sought leave of the tribunal to argue two out of the nine applications, which he said were ripe for hearing.
He noted that one of the two applications dated May 26, 2023, is seeking two prayers, including leave to file list of additional witnesses, while the second one is seeking consolidation of their applications with that of Olajide Adediran of the PDP.
He said they would have proceeded to argue the applications, but that Counsels to 2nd and 3rd respondents, Dr Muiz Banire, SAN, and Bode Olanipeku, SAN, filed a motion on notice, asking the tribunal to strike out and reject their applications, and for it to be regarded as their response to the application of the petitioner.
To make progress, Dr. Ayeni urged the tribunal to take all applications and their responses together so that all matters could be dealt with expeditiously.
But Counsels to the respondents, in their various submissions, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition of the petitioner for being incompetent and for lack of jurisdiction in some other applications.
Counsel to 1st respondent, Dr. Charles Edosomwan, SAN, told the tribunal that they filed a counter affidavit and written addresses in opposition to the two applications and written addresses filed by the petitioners.
Dr. Edosomwan also said the 1st respondent filed a counter affidavit and written address dated May 22, 2023 against the petitioner.
“Our position is to discuss this petition on grounds that your Lordships have no jurisdiction to hear or entertain it.”
Dr. Edosomwan further told the tribunal that their applications dated May 19 and filed May 22 for sundry prayers, including pre-trial hearing and striking out of some paragraphs in the petition of the petitioner on certain grounds.
He drew attention of the tribunal to the application of the petitioner, seeking to bring before the tribunal matters that should not come before it.
He said it raises weighty constitutional matters, which jurisdiction and competency lies elsewhere.
Dr. Banire, in his submissions, further informed the tribunal that the 2nd and 3rd respondents filed applications dated May 30 in opposition to the motion for consolidation of applications by the petitioners.
He said they filed a motion on notice dated May 31 in response to petitioners’ applications.
He said they have three pending applications, in which they were requesting the tribunal to strike out the petitioner’s application on grounds of incompetency and lack of jurisdiction.
He said the second application has four paragraphs seeking an order to strike out all the averments and list of additional witnesses in the petitioner’s application.
Dr. Banire said their prayer was to ask the tribunal to halt the proceedings in the matter until petitioners ensure due compliance with relevant provisions of the Electoral Act.
Counsel to the 4th respondent, Norrison Quakers, SAN, also informed the tribunal that they have filed counter affidavits to all the applications filed by the petitioner along with supportive affidavits and written addresses.
He said the 4th defendant also sought a leave of the tribunal to strike out some paragraphs in the petitioner’s applications before the tribunal.
Responding, Dr. Ayeni said all applications were ripe for hearing except the one asking for leave to join additional witnesses.
He however drew attention of the tribunal to the fact that one of the witnesses, who the petitioner wanted to add, was the candidate of the PDP in the March 18 election, Olajide Adediran a.k.a Jandor .
He drew attention of the tribunal to the application of the 4th respondent, challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the petition of the petitioner, who he argued lacked locus to institute the petition.
He said in response to the petition, they filed a counter affidavit and additional affidavit deposed to May 23 and articulating their arguments on point of law.
He adopted all arguments and also urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition of the petitioner for being incompetent, adding that its grounds were not sustainable in law.
But Dr. Ayeni responded by drawing the attention of the tribunal to Section 134(1)(3) of the Electoral Act, which specified grounds upon which election petitions can be brought.
Counsels to the 2nd through 4th respondents aligned with the submission of the 1st respondent Counsel on new witnesses.
They contended that the PDP and its candidate were not in the petition before the tribunal to which they can respond to.
They stated their opposition to the application of the petitioners for consolidation of applications to add new witnesses.
After taking all submissions by the Counsels, the tribunal chairman, Justice Arum Igyen Ashom adjourned till Friday for ruling on the issues raised by the Counsels.
The trio of SanwoOlu of APC, Rhodes-Vivour of LP and Adediran of PDP had scored 718,595; 257,502 and 59,172 respectively in the March 18 governorship election.