The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the Lagos state election, Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour, has officially closed his case at the governorship election petition tribunal with another document, Form EC9, as evidence to challenge the victory of the winner of the state poll, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Mr Gbadebo Rhodes was given the chance to
The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the Lagos state election, Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour, has officially closed his case at the governorship election petition tribunal with another document, Form EC9, as evidence to challenge the victory of the winner of the state poll, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Mr Gbadebo Rhodes was given the chance to present 10 witnesses as a petitioner against the Independent National Electoral Commission, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Obafemi Hamzat, and the All Progressives Congress, who are the first to fourth respondents in the matter, to disprove the declaration of the electoral commission of Sanwo-Olu as the winner of the gubernatorial election.
Having presented six witnesses, and several documents of Forms EC8 and EC9 to Justice Arum’s tribunal, Mr Rhodes is praying to the court to disqualify Mr Sanwo-Olu as the governor on the allegation that he was not elected by the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election, that he did not comply with the provisions of the electoral act 2022 and the constitution, and that Sanwo-Olu was not qualified at the time of the election to contest the poll.
The petitioner also questioned the eligibility of Lagos State Deputy Governor Dr Obafemi Hamzat to run in the election, claiming that Dr Hamzat has sworn an oath of allegiance to the United States of America and is thus no longer a Nigerian citizen.
While closing his case today at the tribunal, Mr Rhodes, represented by his counsel, Idowu Benson, tendered a CTC document to further strengthen his case against Dr Hamzat’s Nigerian citizenship.
However, the lawyer for the first respondent, Adetunji Oyedipo objected to the admissibility of the document, noting that further objections would be submitted in the final written statement.
Similarly, the counsel for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respondents, Bode Olanipekun (SAN) and Norrisson Quaker (SAN) argued that the document presented was not admissible in court, adding that the document tendered was not signed by the INEC.
Mr Quaker added that only documents signed by INEC should be admitted as evidence before the tribunal, indicating that he will include his additional objections in the final written address.
However, the court admitted the CTC document, urging the respondents to include their objections in the final written address.
Jandor Seeks More Time to present more witnesses against Sanwo-Olu
On the contrary, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abdulazeez Adediran also known as Jandor has appealed to the tribunal for the extension of time to bring more witnesses to the hearing.
The PDP candidate is seeking the disqualification of the APC candidate, who was declared the winner of the governorship election, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on the ground that the governor presented a forged WAEC certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission during his registration to contest for the position of the state governor.
He also claimed that the state’s deputy governor, Obafemi Hamzat, swore an oath of allegiance to the United States of America, rendering his Nigerian citizenship null and void. He also accused the APC of not following proper procedure before nominating its candidate to run for office.
Mr Adediran also alleged that the Labour Party candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour was not qualified to contest as the candidate of the party, stating that the Labour Party failed to follow the electoral act of 2022 before nominating Mr Vivour as its candidate. He stated that Mr. Vivour was still a PDP member at the time he was chosen to be the LP candidate.
To further establish his case, Mr Adediran, through his counsel, Mr Clement Onwuenwunor (SAN), in an application filed on July 4th, 2023, asked the court to grant the petitioner a leave to present more witnesses to the court on the ground that the petitioner has the right to bring any application that can sustain this petition and is pertinent to these proceedings.
He noted that “The petitioner also has the opportunity to be heard and to be further heard by the tribunal. I did not seek adjournment, my lords; I only sought direction. In the pre-hearing report, your lordships were magnanimous to give us four days, and the fourth day has not even been spent yet. We sought an extension of time in our application today, and no one can constrain your lordship to any particular action.”
Objecting to his application, INEC lawyer, Adetunji Oyedipo informed the tribunal that the application was unmerited and and that the case should be closed, given that the petitioner has already exhausted his time to present his case.
Similarly, the counsel to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Mr. Benjamin Nwosu, also aligned with INEC’s position that Jandor should close his case. Citing Paragraph 18 sub 10 of the Electoral Act, which could only be modified upon application to the tribunal, noting that there was no application to modify the pre-hearing report.
He also added that what the petitioner is seeking to do is unknown to electoral practice, and the law is right that proceedings in election tribunals are strictly time bound urging the court to close the petitioners’ case and to discountenance their application as an abuse of the process of the court.
Counsel to the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Noris Quakers (SAN), however, told the tribunal that the application was not ripe for hearing. “The rule says that the petitioner shall have three days to prove their case and shall not go beyond four days.” What kind of application is this, and why is it intervening? Is it trying to change the petition? as the application that has been served on us also requires our responses, which will take days to respond. Our humble application is that this application is not ripe for hearing. We need time to respond, but it must not go beyond today.”
On the contrary, counsel to Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour and the Labour Party, Mr. Folagbade Benson, agreed with the petitioner to present their application to extend, adding that since the 4th day given to the petitioner has not yet lapsed, the tribunal should grant the petitioner’s request.
Giving the ruling, Justice Arum noted that the petitioner was still within his legal right to apply for more days to present witnesses to the court. Granting the petitioner’s request, the Judge also set July 6th as the next day of hearing the matter.