The Lagos State Governorship Election Tribunal took adoptions of final addresses of all lawyers in the petition filed by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olajide Adediran popularly known as Jandor.
The three-member panel also adjourned judgment in that petition to a date to be communicated to parties.
In his petition challenging the result of the elections held on March 18, Jandor had called for the disqualification of the candidates of the All Progressives Congress and the Labour Party, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour for “non-compliance” with the Electoral Act 2022 and the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
While INEC was listed as the 1st respondent, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Obafemi Hamzat and APC were listed as the 2nd, 3rd &4th respondents while Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and the LP were listed as the 5th and 6th respondents.
In his 40 paged final written address which he adopted, counsel to INEC, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Abiodun Olatunji noted that the Ist respondent raised 2 vital issues for determination and a preliminary objection.
INEC asked the tribunal to determine among other things whether it had the jurisdiction to hear and determine the petition, whether the petitioners has made a case for the nullification of the return of the winners and whether the PDP Candidate who came third could be declared winner in line with his reliefs.
Mr Olatunji said, “We submit that the petition is bereft of evidence. Where both judicial and statutory authorities are cited, they were not supported by facts or evidence known to law”.
“I urge the tribunal to find that the petitioner having failed to establish the case of non-qualification against the 2nd & 3rd respondents, his petition is liable to be dismissed in its entirety. We shall not be asking for cost”.
Counsel to the 2nd & 3rd respondents, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Wole Olanipekun while adopting his final written address told the Tribunal that the petition on the face of it demonstrates the unseriousness of the petitioners.
He said, “We formulated two issues for determination. We also said that the tribunal does not have jurisdiction to entertain this petition because it relates to pre-elections matters. Nomination of candidates to fly the flag of APC is a dead issue.”
Counsel to the 4th respondent, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Abiodun Owonikoko in the adoption of his final written address urged the Tribunal to dismiss what he called the “still birth petition” of the PDP & its candidate.
“The first ground of their petition has to do with pre-election issues. The second ground has to do with disqualification of the second respondent. I submit that the evidence of DW 4 has resolved the issue so much so that they even sought to declare him a hostile witness. I commend his evidence as being decisive of the issues in this petition”.
“On the second ground that has to do with the elections, I say it has nothing to do with APC or the 2nd or 3rd respondent. It is a future threat because it seeks the disqualification of the 5th respondent, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour”.
“Once the hurdle of disqualifying the real winner is not scaled, consideration of the person who came second cannot suffice”, he concluded.
Counsel for the 5th respondent, Olagbade Benson in his adoption of his final written addresses noted that the petition has become “an academic affair”.
“The tribunal is not a classroom, it’s for serious business. Issue 1 talks about whether the tribunal can determine the qualifications of 5th respondent without first determining the qualifications of 2nd & 3rd”
“S134(3) spells out the entire grounds for disqualification. The petitioner is obliged to prove disqualification of 2nd & 3rd respondents, the court has no business determining the qualifications of the 5th respondent”.
On whether the petitioner proved his case against the 5th respondent, Their grouse is that he was a member of their party, the PDP. But we submit that the petitioners attempt to have the 5th respondent disqualified was terminated at the Federal High court and they have no appeal pending against it.
“It’s a clear pre election matter. They failed to present the PDP register showing that the 5th respondent was their member as at the time he was running for office.”
Counsel to the 6th respondent, Idowu Benson in the adoption of his final written address also noted that the issue of the qualification of Mr Rhodes-Vivour was before the Federal High Court and having failed to appeal as an interested party, the judgment of the court is binding on all parties as they are judgments in rem. The petitioner has therefore failed to prove his case.
In his reply to all the respondents, counsel to the petitioner, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Clement Onwuenwunor argued that the option is no longer available to the respondents to claim that the issue of disqualification is a pre-election issue.
He therefore urged the tribunal to disregard everything the respondents had said. He noted that their entire arguments is a rehash of their previous arguments on which a ruling of the tribunal is still pending.
On the issue of the qualification of the second respondent, he submitted that the exhibit master list tendered by WAEC vindicates the petitioner that the second respondent, Gov Sanwo-Olu lied on oath about his qualifications. He insisted that there were differences in the names submitted by the governor and the witness.