Deputy Governor’s Court appearance marks turning point in Lagos state election dispute

Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat recently closed a chapter in the political history of Lagos State by making a major advancement toward justice. On Tuesday, he arrived at the Court of Appeal, Lagos state Division, where the future of the state’s leadership was being determined.

The court was set to hear appeals challenging the judgment of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which had confirmed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s re-election.

Recall that, on September 25, 2023, the Election Petitions Tribunal had upheld the legitimacy of Sanwo-Olu’s leadership and that of his deputy. In a unanimous decision, the tribunal had dismissed two petitions—one filed by the Peoples Democratic Party PDP and its governorship candidate Olajide Adediran, and the other by the Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Rhodes-Vivour.

When addressing the PDP’s petition, Justice Mikail Abdullahi, speaking on behalf of the three-man panel, ruled that the PDP’s case lacked merit and was consequently dismissed. “I affirm the election and return of Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu as the duly elected governor of Lagos state,” Justice Abdullahi affirmed.

The tribunal had also to address the crucial matter of its jurisdiction to hear the petition. Justice Abdullahi made it clear that the tribunal had the competence to do so and emphasized that this issue had already been resolved during the preliminary objection stage.

The tribunal’s second task was to determine the validity of the nomination of Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, by their party, the All Progressives Congress , APC , for the elections.

The tribunal meticulously cited constitutional provisions, the Electoral Act, and established legal precedents, underscoring that this was a pre-election issue unrelated to the conduct of the elections in question.

The tribunal further noted that the petitioners were not members of the APC, the 4th respondent, and therefore, they did not have the standing to challenge the party’s primary elections that had nominated both Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat.

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