The Court of Appeal in Lagos has fixed tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 15 to deliver judgment in the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Abdulazeez Olajide Adediran challenging the re-election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
A notice sent out by the court to parties in the appeal indicated the judgment will be delivered tomorrow at 3 pm.
Exactly a week ago, on Nov 7th, the Court of Appeal panel led by Justice Yargata Nimpar had reserved judgment in the two appeals after listening to the arguments of the parties.Other Justices of the panel are Justice Samuel Bola and Justice Paul Bassi.The court said the date for judgment would be communicated to the parties.
On September 25, the Election Petitions Tribunal had in its unanimous decision dismissed the two petitions and upheld the re-election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy Obafemi Hamzat.
At the hearing of the two appeals on Nov 7th, the three-man panel led by Justice Yargata Nimpar reserved the judgment after taking arguments from parties.
In his submission before the justices, the lead counsel to Rhodes-Vivour, Olagbade Benson, urged the court to allow the appeal, grant the reliefs sought and set aside the decision of the Tribunal delivered on Sept. 25th.
He also urged the court to interpret Section 182 (1) (a) of the Constitution and its implication to the qualification of the 2nd and 3rd respondents.
On Oct. 7th, Gbadebo-Rhodes Vivour filed his notice of appeal containing 21 grounds of appeal challenging the decision of the State Governorship Tribunal which upheld the return of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The appeal among others stated that the tribunal erred in law when it relied on the Court of Appeal’s decision in the petition of Mr. Peter Gregory Obi & Anor. Vs. INEC & Ors. to strike out the evidence of all his subpoenaed witnesses.
In Grounds 2 & 3, the appellants sticking with the issue of its subpoenaed witnesses also claimed that the Tribunal erred in law when it held that the three witnesses, PW7, PW8, and PW9 were not witnesses that fall within the category of witnesses that could be subpoenaed and subsequently discountenanced their oral evidence and documents on the premise that they were not listed as witnesses and their sworn statements did not accompany the Petition and documents frontloaded in line with the Electoral Act 2022.
In Grounds 4 & 5, Rhodes-Vivour contended that the Tribunal erred in law when it held that the burden of proof of the specific Oath of Allegiance subscribed to by the Deputy Governor as well as the evidence of his renounced citizenship rests on the Appellant and that exhibits placed before the tribunal on this issue were deemed abandoned.
It also stated that the tribunal failed to disqualify Sanwo-Olu and his deputy having found that Hamzat is a naturalized United States of America citizen who made a declaration of allegiance to that country.
Other grounds of the petition touched on the failure of the tribunal to disqualify Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy having found that Dr. Obafemi Hamzat is a naturalized United States of America citizen who made a declaration of allegiance to that country.
Rhodes-Vivour argued that Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution states that only a Nigerian citizen by birth is qualified to contest for the office of Governor and Deputy Governor of a State.
In its response to the appeal, counsel to Gov. Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Wole Olanipekun urged the court to dismiss the appeal.
He contended that the dual citizenship argued by the appellant was never presented before the tribunal.
“They are now presenting a case of dual citizenship, they believe that this is a trial court. The tribunal found out that the purported oath of allegiance to a foreign country was not before it so it ruled it out. We urge your Lordship to dismiss this appeal,” he said.
In the appeal of the PDP & its governorship candidate, Azeez Olajide Adediran popularly known as Jandor, he filed 34 grounds of appeal against the judgment of the Tribunal which declared Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the winner of the election.