Lagos Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has fixed today for ruling on whether or not to strike out an application filed by the Labour Party’s (LP’s) candidate in the March 18 election, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, for being incompetent and lack of jurisdiction.
The Chairman, Justice Arum Ashom, fixed the date after taking submissions from lawyers in the matter.
Other members of the tribunal are Justice Mikail Abdullahi and Justice I. P. Braimoh.
Rhodes-Vivour is seeking an order of the tribunal nullifying the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat on the grounds that they were not qualified to contest the March 18 poll.
He asked the tribunal to disqualify the governor for “non-compliance” with the Electoral Act 2022 and the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and to declare him winner of the election.
Rhodes-Vivour said the governor was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.
INEC, Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are the 1st to 4th respondents in the petition.
During the proceedings, counsel for the petitioner, Dr. Olumide Ayeni (SAN), sought leave of the tribunal to argue two out of nine applications, which he said were ripe for hearing.
He said one application dated May 26, 2023 is seeking two prayers, including leave to file the list of additional witnesses, while the second one is seeking consolidation of their applications with that of Olajide Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said they would have proceeded to argue the applications, but counsel for the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN) and Bode Olanipekun (SAN) filed 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, Ayeni urged the tribunal to take all applications and their responses together so that all matters could be dealt with expeditiously.
But counsel for the respondents, in their submissions, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition of the petitioner for being incompetent and for lack of jurisdiction in some other applications.
Counsel for the 1st respondent, Dr. Charles Edosomwan (SAN), told the tribunal that they filed counter affidavit and written addresses in opposition to the two applications and written addresses filed by the petitioner.
Edosomwan also said the 1st respondent filed counter affidavit and written address dated May 22, 2023 against the petitioner.
“Our position is to discuss this petition on the grounds that your lordships have no jurisdiction to hear or entertain it.”
Edosomwan further told the tribunal that their application was dated May 19 and filed on May 22 for sundry prayers, including pre-trial hearing and striking out of some paragraphs in the petition of the petitioner on certain grounds.
He drew the attention of the tribunal to the application of the petitioner seeking to bring before the tribunal matters that should not come before it.
He said it raises weighty constitutional matters, which jurisdiction and competency lie elsewhere.
Banire in his submissions informed the tribunal that the 2nd and 3rd respondents filed application dated May 30 in opposition to the motion for consolidation of applications by the petitioner.
He said they filed a motion on notice dated May 31 in response to the petitioner’s application.
He said they have three pending applications, in which they were requesting the tribunal to strike out the petitioner’s application on the grounds of incompetency and lack of jurisdiction.
He said the second application has four paragraphs seeking an order to strike out the averments and list of additional witnesses in the petitioner’s application.
Banire said 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 for the 4th respondent, Norrison Quakers (SAN), informed the tribunal that they have filed counter affidavits to the applications filed by the petitioner along with supportive affidavits and written addresses.
He said the 4th defendant also sought leave of the tribunal to strike out some paragraphs in the petitioner’s applications before the tribunal.
Responding, 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 election, Olajide Adediran aka Jandor .
He drew the attention of the tribunal to the application of the 4th respondent challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the petition of the petitioner, who he argued lacked locus to institute the petition.
He said in response to the petition, they filed counter affidavit and additional affidavit deposed to on May 23 and articulated their arguments on point of law.
He adopted all arguments and also urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition of the petitioner for being incompetent, adding that its grounds were not sustainable in law.
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 could be brought.
All the counsel for the 2nd to the 4th respondents aligned with the submission of counsel for the 1st respondent on new witnesses.
They contended that PDP and its candidate were not in the petition before the tribunal to which they could respond to.
They stated their opposition to the application by the petitioner for consolidation of application to add new witnesses.
They all aligned with the submission of the counsel for the 1st respondent on the issue.
After taking submissions by the counsel, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Ashom, adjourned for ruling today on issues raised by the lawyers.