The Court of Appeal on Saturday in Lagos 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 and its governorship candidate, Mr Ifagbemi Awamaridi, lacked merit and “sank never to rise again, even on appeal.”
The party and its candidate, Awamaridi had appealed the judgment of Election Petition Tribunal delivered on September 23, 2019, insisting that Governor 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), Governor Sanwo-Olu, All Progressives Congress (APC), INEC Residential Electoral Commissioner (REC), the Returning Officer for the Lagos State Governorship Election, the State’s Commissioner of Police and the Nigerian Army.
The Appellate Court also dismissed an appeal filed by Alliance for Democracy (AD) and its governorship candidate, Owolabi Salis, challenging Governor Sanwo-Olu’s electoral victory in the same March 2019 exercise.
Delivering judgment in respect of the LP’s appeal, Justice Hannatu Sankey, who read the lead judgement of the five-man panel of Justices of Appeal Court, specifically affirmed the decisions earlier 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.
It 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 the 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.
Also, the Appeal Court in its judgment dismissed an appeal filed by the AD and its governorship candidate, Mr Salis, challenging the electoral victory of Mr Sanwo-Olu as governor of Lagos State.
In a unanimous decision, Justice Ayobode Shodipe, who read the lead judgement, held that the appeal filed by AD lacked merit, describing it as “dead on arrival.”
According to Shodipe, “The appeal is seriously lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. The seven issues of the appellant (Salis) are hereby resolved against him.”
Besides, the Appellate Court ordered that a cost of N200,000 should be awarded against the appellants in favour of each of six of the seven respondents (except the Commissioner of Police), in both appeals, bringing the total cost to N2.4million.