The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the march 18, 2023 Lagos state governorship election, Abdulazeez Adediran (a.k.a. Jandor), has closed his petition against the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
This was after the tribunal declined his application to access the backend server of the West African Examination Council.
The PDP candidate is seeking the disqualification of the state governor on the ground that he allegedly presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The Petitioner also accused the deputy governor, Obafemi Hazmat of not including his oath of declaration in his INEC Form EC9 containing his personal details, and that the APC did not comply with the Electoral Act when nominating Mr Sanwo-Olu and his deputy.
Following the issuance of a subpoena handed down by the tribunal on WAEC to testify on the controversies surrounding the governor’s school certificate qualification, an official had appeared before it last week, where he presented a document bearing a May/June O’level result with the name of the governor issued in 1981 by the Ijebu Ife Community Grammar School.
But, Jandor’s counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor (SAN) had accused Mr Adekanbi of not being truthful in his evidence, saying that the evidence he presented was different from the petitioner’s earlier findings on WAEC’s online result verification portal which allegedly did not show the governor’s name and result.
At the hearing of last week, the tribunal also refused the application of the Petitioner to cross examine the said witness, adding that they had failed to establish a direct link between their findings on the portal and WAEC itself.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, the petitioner applied to the tribunal to access the backend server of the examination body.
The petitioner, through his counsel noted that the application was made in the best interests of justice and that obtaining the information would support their arguments against the state governor’s candidacy.
Objecting to the application, the counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, who is the 1st respondent to the petition, Adetunji Oyedipo (SAN), stated in his counter-affidavit that the petitioner was only fishing out the evidence for himself without direction, adding that the result tendered by Mr Sanwo-Olu and WAEC are enough to enable the court decide on the matter.
The senior counsel insisted that finding additional evidence in the case would be pointless because none of the evidence presented would be beneficial to the tribunal.
Also, the counsel to Messrs Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat, Muiz Banire (SAN), opposed the application on the grounds that the petitioner’s requests had never been the subject of a prior application, which would have established the necessity of the current application. He also indicated that the petitioner is only seeking orders against a non-existent party.
He concluded by maintaining that the tribunal does not have the legal standing to grant the application, urging the tribunal to ignore the motion.
Chukuwudi Ani (SAN), who represents the All Progressive Congress, also argued against the legality of the petitioner’s application by informing the tribunal that one Debola Adegboye, a lawyer with Clement Onwuenwunor’s legal team, signed the deposition attached to the application, which makes the motion contentious. He claimed that a prior Supreme Court decision rendered such action irrelevant.
He also appealed to the court to dismiss the application for lack of merit, stating the document contained diverse arguments which do not have facts to support them.
But counsel, Olagbade Benson and Olalekan Ojo, representing the 5th and 6th respondents – Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour and Labour Party, respectively, concurred with the petitioner’s request to access the WAEC back-end server.
On his part, Professor Taiwo Oshipitan (SAN), the counsel to the West African Examination Council said the petitioner’s application is contentious, adding that the petitioner did not clarify if he would only inspect the back-end server or the infrastructure of the examination body.
Additionally, he said the issue is crucial because granting the petitioner access to the WAEC server will make everyone who has ever registered for the exam vulnerable, not just the second respondent. He added that it would expose the examination body’s staff to the general public, particularly given some sensitive information stored in the portal.
After hearing all arguments, Justice Arum Ashom who heads the three-member tribunal declined the petitioner’s application to access the WAEC back-end server.
The tribunal also struck out an application for extension of time within which to call more witness by the petitioner