The All Progressives Congress on Tuesday presented its first witness in the petition filed by the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the March 18, 2023 election, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.
The respondents in the petition are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Deputy, Obafemi Hamzat; and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
At the resumed hearing, the APC Chieftain, Fouad Oki who was led in his testimony by the APC’s counsel, Babatunde Ogala (SAN) tendered a downloaded document issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service, formatting the process for the renunciation of a Nigerian citizenship, which can only be approved by the President of the country.
The witness also tendered a Punch online report, a series of tweets and a YouTube video downloaded in a flash drive of Labour Party supporters allegedly threatening to use dogs to chase out APC supporters from polling units on Election Day.
Only the counsel for the Labour Party’s candidate, ldowu Benson objected to the admissibility of the witness’ electronic documents as exhibits, saying he would fully adduce his reasons during the stage of final addresses.
The three-member tribunal headed by Justice Arum Ashom provisionally admitted the documents in view of the objections.
During cross examination, the witness who has earlier said he was the APC’s Director-general of the 2023 general election campaigns in Lagos State,
Answered Mr Benson’s question that he has never been a member of the PDP or the LP, and that the APC doesn’t have a cross petition before the tribunal.
During cross examination by counsel for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hazmat, Bode Olaonipekun (SAN), the witness said filling of nomination forms by candidates (INEC Form EC9) was done online, under the Electoral Act (2022) and that deposition of oaths by the candidates, which forms part of form EC9 is done before a Commissioner for Oaths.
“(Confirm that) in the current regime, you fill nomination forms online.
You don’t depose to an oath online.
On exhibit PE 717, that’s the oath for the Deputy Governor.
That oath contains the handwritten endorsement of the commissioner for oaths.
So I’m correct that whereas other parts of EC9 are filled online, the oaths section sworn before the commissioner for oaths is separately uploaded.
On Exhibit R25, that’s the final list of candidates and their running mates for the governorship election.
It is only after candidates submit their nomination forms that their names are published by INEC.
By that list, it’s the same time INEC published the names of Mr Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hazmat hamzat that it also published Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour’s name.
A person who’s not a Nigerian or has renounced his citizenship can’t have a Nigerian passport.
The Tribunal discharged the witness afterwards and adjourned the hearing till Thursday, July 13.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour, who emerged second in the March polls is challenging the victory of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, alleging that the APC candidate was not qualified to contest the election on the basis of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Constitution.
The petitioner is also challenging the eligibility of the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat to contest on grounds that he allegedly renounced his Nigerian citizenship and swore allegiance to the United States of America.