Tribunal affirms Sanwo-Olu’s election, dismisses PDP, LP candidates’ petitions

The Lagos State Election Petition Tribunal has upheld the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The three-member tribunal, led by Justice Arun Ashom, affirmed that Mr. Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, were duly elected in the March 18 gubernatorial election.

The tribunal delivered its judgment in response to a petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party Governorship Candidate for Lagos State, Abdulazeez Adediran (also known as Jandor), and his Labour Party counterpart, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. After an 11-hour judgment, the tribunal declared Mr. Sanwo-Olu and Mr. Hamzat as the winners of the governorship election.

Regarding Rhodes-Vivour’s petition, the tribunal’s chairman, Ashom, stated that the petitioner’s main argument was that Mr. Hamzat had taken an oath of allegiance in the U.S. to renounce his Nigerian citizenship, which, according to the petitioner, made him ineligible to run for political office in Nigeria. However, the tribunal ruled that since Mr. Hamzat was a Nigerian citizen by birth, his American naturalization did not extinguish his right to contest elections in Nigeria. The tribunal concluded that his oath of allegiance to the U.S. did not prevent him from running for political office in Nigeria.

The tribunal rejected the testimony of a U.S. immigration lawyer, Mrs. Olubusayo Fasidi, who could not disclose the jurisdiction and date of Mr. Hamzat’s naturalization application due to the Privacy Act of 1974. Consequently, the tribunal affirmed the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) declaration of Mr. Sanwo-Olu and Mr. Hamzat as the duly elected governor and deputy governor.

Earlier, the tribunal stated that the evidence before it showed that Adediran’s petition lacked merit and was not valid. Adediran had argued that Mr. Sanwo-Olu was wrongly nominated and sponsored by his party, the All Progressives Party (APC), and therefore was not qualified for the election. However, the tribunal held that this did not constitute grounds for disqualification under Sections 177 and 182 of the Nigerian Constitution.

The tribunal also stated that it did not have the authority to investigate the APC’s primary election that produced Mr. Sanwo-Olu, as it was a pre-election matter outside its jurisdiction.

INEC had previously declared Mr. Sanwo-Olu the winner of the governorship election, with 762,134 votes, followed by Mr. Rhodes-Vivour with 312,329 votes, and Mr. Jandor coming third with 62,449 votes.

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