The Lagos State Election Petitions Tribunal has affirmed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s election.
The three-man tribunal headed by Justice Arun Ashom held that Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, were duly elected in the March 18 election.
It delivered judgement in a petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party Governorship Candidate for Lagos State, Mr Abdulazeez Adediran (a.k.a. Jandor), and his Labour Party counterpart, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.
The tribunal, in an 11-hour judgement, declared Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat as the winner of the election.
On the petition of Rhodes-Vivour, Chairman of the tribunal, Ashom held that the petitioner focused on one ground, which was that Hamzat took an oath of allegiance in the U.S. to renounce his Nigerian citizenship, rendering him ineligible to run for a political position in Nigeria.
The tribunal held that since Hamzat was a Nigerian citizen by birth, his American naturalisation did not extinguish his rights to run for political office in Nigeria.
The tribunal held that being a citizen of Nigeria by birth, his oath of allegiance to U.S. did not prevent him from contesting election.
Ashom said: “As it is, the petition stands on only one ground, which is the deputy governor’s dual citizenship.
“However, the U.S. immigration lawyer, Mrs Olubusayo Fasidi, under cross-examination, told the tribunal that she could not disclose the jurisdiction and date the third respondent, Hamzat, applied for naturalisation because the information was protected by the Privacy Act of 1974.
“The tribunal hereby reject the testimony of the lawyer as her testimony is being misconceived.
“Consequently, the tribunal hereby affirm INEC’s declaration of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat as the governor and deputy duly elected,” Ashom said.
Earlier, the tribunal held that evidence before it showed that Adediran’s petition lacked merit and was dead on arrival.
Adediran had contended that Sanwo-Olu was wrongfully nominated and sponsored by his party, the All Progressives Party (APC) and, therefore, was not qualified for the election.
However, the tribunal held that the position did not form part of the grounds for disqualification for election into the office of a governor, under Sections 177 and 182 of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended).
The tribunal also declared that it had no powers to inquire into the primary election of the APC which produced Sanwo-Olu, adding that the issue was a pre-election matter which did not fall under its jurisdiction.
“Only an aspirant or member of a political party can complain about the outcome of the party’s primary election, not a busybody like the petitioner,” it held.
According to the tribunal, Adediran failed to discharge the burden of proof imposed on him by the Electoral Act.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Sanwo-Olu the winner of the governorship election.
Sanwo-Olu polled 762,134 votes to defeat Rhodes-Vivour who scored 312,329 votes while Jandor came third with 62,449 votes.