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Tribunal Delivers Judgement On APM, APP Petitions Against Sanwo-Olu, Others

The Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has dismissed the petitions filed by the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) and Action Peoples Party (APP) against the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat

The Chairman of the three-man Tribunal, Justice Arum Ashom, dismissed the petition after the petitioners withdrew them.

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Other members of the Tribunal are Justice Mikail Abdullahi and Justice Igho Braimoh.

At the sitting of the tribunal on Wednesday, the petitioners through their lawyers, Henry Bello representing the APM and Francis Ese for the APP, told the Tribunal that their client had lost interest in pursuing the petitions.

Apart from the Lagos State governor and his deputy, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are other respondents to the two petitions.

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Sanwo-Olu polled 762,134 votes to defeat his closest rival, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who scored 312,329, while the PDP’s Jide Adediran, who came third, garnered 62,449 votes.

The candidate of APM, Funmilayo Kupoluyi scored 884 while the candidate of APP, Abiola Adeyemi scored 259, according to the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The parties had argued in their separate petitions that Sanwo-Olu and his deputy were not qualified to contest the election and that INEC failed to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution.

When the case was called, the lawyer to APM, Bello informed the Tribunal that the motion for withdrawal was predicated on four grounds supported by two affidavits sworn to by Yusuf Mamman Dantalle, the party’s National Chairman.

“Our candidate has lost interest in the petition and has proceeded to congratulate the second respondent. We urge the tribunal to strike out this petition,” he said.

Counsel to the APP also told the Tribunal that he had the directive of the Chairman of the party, Chief Okey Nwosu, to withdraw the petition.

In his response, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, John Baiyeshe who represented INEC in the APM petition, did not oppose the application but asked the court to dismiss the petition rather than strike it out, because parties had joined issues.

While counsel to Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat, Ayuba Kawu and that of the APC, Abiodun Owonikoko, did not oppose the application for withdrawal, they also aligned themselves with Baiyeshe’s argument that the petition be dismissed.

Kawu said, “We have no objection to the application and no agreement or undertaking in relation to the withdrawal of the petition. We align that the appropriate order to make is dismissal.”

Owonikoko also submitted that it is trite law that the appropriate order is dismissal where pleadings have been joined. Once issues are joined and the time for filing a new petition has lapsed, the correct order is dismissal, not striking out.

In his ruling, Justice Ashom held that “the sum effect of what the petitioners said is that the petition is withdrawn. The respondents have filed an affidavit of non-collusion and did not object”.

“Considering the level at which the petition is and that pleadings have been closed, we order that the petition be dismissed,” he added.

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Segun Akinlabi

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