INEC defends Sanwo-Olu’s victory at Supreme Court

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeals by the Labour Party and the People’s Democratic Party challenging the victory of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

LP candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, and PDP’s Azeez Adediran, alias Jandor, are challenging the verdict of the Court of Appeal, which affirmed Sanwo-Olu’s victory in the March 18 governorship poll in Lagos.

INEC, through its counsel, Nas Ogunsakin, while adopting its brief, said the lower courts had dismissed the appellant’s cases for lacking in merit and urged the Supreme Court to uphold the lower courts’ verdicts.

“I urge My Lords to dismiss these appeals. The lower courts dismissed their cases because they didn’t provide enough evidence for their claims, and the court also ruled that their witnesses were incompetent,” the INEC lawyer said.

Also, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who represented Sanwo-Olu, and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, argued that the appellants brought new issues apart from the ones canvassed at the lower courts.

“There is no connectivity between the case here and that of the lower courts. The case they made was about Hamzat’s renunciation of Nigerian citizenship but at the Supreme Court it is on the acquisition of USA citizenship,” Olanipekun said, urging the apex court to affirm his clients’ electoral victory.

Similarly, counsel for the Sanwo-Olu’s party, All Progressives Congress, Muiz Banire (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the appeal with a substantial cost.

Banire said the appeal was at variance with what was pleaded at the tribunal, adding that the issue raised by the appellants did not cover the arguments advanced.

Earlier, counsel for the LP, Olagbade Benson, urged the apex court to determine whether Hamazat, joined as the third respondent, was qualified to stand for election as he was allegedly a US citizen.

On his part, PDP’s lawyer, Clement Onwuenwunor (SAN), said the name Sanwo-Olu submitted to INEC was different from that contained in his WAEC certificate.

But in response, Olanipekun argued that: “The court lacks jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The appellant is asking the court to review the evidence. Sanwo-Olu did not submit the WAEC result; the appellant accused him of forgery in the form he submitted to INEC. He did not submit the certificate yet they brought two copies of the said WAEC certificates and alleged forgery. They are claiming a certificate not submitted is forged.”

After hearing all the parties, the Supreme Court five-man panel, led by Justice John Okoro, reserved judgment to a date to be communicated to parties.