9th November, 2019
The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Saturday dismissed an appeal filed by Labour Party (LP) challenging the judgment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which affirmed the election of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the Governor of Lagos State.
The Appellate Court, in a unanimous decision, held that the appeal lodged by Labour Party lacked merit and “sank never to rise again, even on appeal.”
Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Mr Ifagbemi Awamaridi, had appealed the judgment of Election Petition Tribunal delivered on September 23, 2019, insisting that Sanwo-Olu was not qualified to contest the election held in March 2019, and that the Governor did not win the election.
The respondents are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Sanwo-Olu, All Progressives Congress (APC), INEC Residential Electoral Commissioner, the Returning Officer for the Lagos State Governorship Election, the State’s Commissioner of Police and the Nigerian Army.
But Justice Hannatu Sankey, who read the lead judgement of the five-man panel of Justices of Appeal Court, specifically affirmed the decisions reached by the Governorship Tribunal.
According to the Court, the appellant (Labour Party) failed to produce any oral or documentary evidence through witnesses and other channels to establish the fact that Governor Sanwo-Olu was not qualified to contest the election, or did not win the Governorship election.
The Court further ruled that the petitioner went on a “Columbian Journey of making assertions with nothing to back it up,” and thereby dismissed the appeal in its entirety.
The Appellate Court also upheld the Tribunal’s decision that no proof of allegation of collusion and assault against officers of the Nigerian Army was provided by the appellants, adding that no sufficient fact was provided to substantiate allegation of electoral malpractices at the polling units against the respondents.
“The appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. I hereby uphold the judgment of the Lagos State Election Petition Tribunal,” Justice Sankey held.
All the other four Justices of the Court affirmed and concurred with the lead judgement.
In a related development, the Appeal Court also dismissed an appeal filed by Alliance for Democracy (AD) and its governorship candidate, Owolabi Salis to challenge Sanwo-Olu’s electoral victory.
In a unanimous decision, Justice Ayobode Shodipe, who read the lead judgement, held that the appeal of AD lacked merit and was “Dead On Arrival.”
“The appeal is seriously lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. The seven issues of the appellant (Salis) are hereby resolved against him,” Justice Shodipe ruled.
Besides, the Appellate Court ordered that a cost of N200,000 should be awarded against the appellants in favour of each six of the seven respondents (except the Commissioner of Police) in both appeals, bringing the total cost to N2.4 million.