The Lagos Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has fixed Friday for ruling on whether to strike out an application filed by the Labour Party’s (LP) candidate in the March 18 governorship election, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour on grounds of incompetence and lack of jurisdiction.
The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Arum Igyen Ashom fixed the date after taking submissions from all counsel in the matter.
Other members of the tribunal are Justice Mikail Abdullahi and Justice I.P. Braimoh.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour is seeking an order of the tribunal nullifying the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat on grounds that they were not qualified to contest the election.
He asked the Tribunal to disqualify the governor citing “non-compliance” with the Electoral Act 2022 and the guidelines of INEC and to declare him winner of the election, instead.
The LP candidate also argued that the governor was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), Gov. Sanwo-Olu, Dr Hamzat and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are the 1st to 4th respondents in the petition.
During the last proceedings, counsel to the petitioner, Dr Olumide Ayeni (SAN) sought leave of the tribunal to argue two out of nine applications, which he said are ripe for hearing.
He said the application 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 counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Dr Muiz Banire (SAN) and Bode Olanipekun (SAN) filed a motion on notice asking the tribunal to strike out and reject their application 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 counsel to the respondents, in their various submissions, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for being incompetent. They also argued that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear the petition.
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 filed by the petitioner .
He said the petition raises weighty constitutional matters in which jurisdiction and competency lies elsewhere.
Dr. Banire in his submissions also informed the tribunal that the 2nd and 3rd respondents filed an application dated May 30 in opposition to the motion for consolidation of applications by the petitioner.
He said that 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 4th respondent, Norrison Quakers (SAN) also informed the tribunal that they have filed counter affidavits in opposition to all the applications filed by the petitioner along with supportive affidavits and written addresses.
He said the 4th defendant also seek leave of the tribunal to strike out some paragraphs in the petitioner’s applications before the tribunal.
Responding, Dr Ayeni said all applications are 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 elections, 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 who he argued lacked locus to institute the petition.
But Dr Ayeni responded by drawing attention of the tribunal to section 134(1)(3) of the Electoral Act which he said specified grounds upon which election petitions can be brought.
All the counsels to the 2nd to the 4th respondents aligned with the submission of counsel to 1st respondent on new witnesses.
They contended that PDP and its candidate are not in the petition before the tribunal to which they can respond to.
They stated their opposition to application by the petitioner for consolidation of application to add new witnesses
After hearing all submissions by the counsel, the tribunal chairman, Justice Arum Igyen Ashom adjourned to June 2 to deliver his ruling.
Messrs Sanwo-Olu, Rhodes-Vivour and Adediran of the APC, LP and PDP had scored 718,595; 257,502 and 59,172 respectively in the March 18 election.