In a highly anticipated decision, the Lagos State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal is set to rule today (Friday) on an application filed by Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the Labour Party’s (LP) candidate in the March 18, 2023, election. The application is being challenged for alleged incompetence. The tribunal, chaired by Justice Arum Ashom, heard submissions from counsel involved in the case, with some arguing that the petition should be struck out at the preliminary stage. Other members of the tribunal include Justice Mikail Abdullahi and Justice Igho Braimoh.
Rhodes-Vivour, who obtained 257,502 votes in the election, is seeking an order nullifying the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, on the grounds that they were not qualified to contest the March 18 election. The petitioner has requested 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 Rhodes-Vivour as the winner of the election. Additionally, Rhodes-Vivour argued that the governor did not secure a majority of the lawful votes cast during the election.
The respondents in the petition include INEC, Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat, and the All Progressives Congress (APC). During the proceedings, counsel to the petitioner, Dr. Olumide Ayeni (SAN), sought the tribunal’s permission to argue two of the nine applications that he deemed ripe for hearing. One of the applications, dated May 26, 2023, sought leave to file a list of additional witnesses, while the second application aimed to consolidate their applications with that of Olajide Adediran of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
However, counsel representing the respondents urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition, citing incompetence and lack of jurisdiction. Dr. Charles Edosomwan (SAN), counsel to the first respondent, informed the tribunal that they had filed a counter affidavit and written addresses opposing the two applications and written addresses filed by the petitioner.
After considering all the submissions from the counsel, Justice Ashom adjourned the ruling until today to deliver the tribunal’s decision. The outcome of this ruling will significantly impact the political landscape in Lagos State and the fate of the parties involved in the election dispute.