Appeal Court Affirms Sanwo-Olu’s Election, Fines Appellants N2.4m

The Court of Appeal in Lagos has dismissed an appeal filed by the Labour Party (LP) challenging the judgment of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which affirmed the election of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governor of Lagos State.

In a unanimous decision on Saturday, the five-man panel of justices held that the appeal filed by LP lacked merit and “sank never to rise again, even on appeal.”

The party and its candidate in the March 9 governorship poll, Mr Ifagbemi Awamaridi, had appealed the judgment of Tribunal delivered on September 23.

They insisted that Sanwo-Olu was not qualified to contest the election and that the governor did not win the poll.

The respondents in the appeal included the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Sanwo-Olu, All Progressives Congress (APC), INEC’s Residential Electoral Commissioner in Lagos, Returning Officer for the Lagos State Governorship Election, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, and the Nigerian Army.

Justice Hannatu Sankey, who read the lead judgement of the panel, however, affirmed the decisions reached by the Tribunal.

According to the court, LP failed to produce any oral or documentary evidence through witnesses and other channels to establish the fact that Sanwo-Olu was not qualified to contest the election or did not win the poll.

It ruled that the petitioner went on a “Columbian journey of making assertions with nothing to back it up,” and thereby dismissed the appeal in its entirety.

Dead On Arrival?

The appellate court also upheld the Tribunal’s decision that no proof of allegation of collusion and assault against officers of the Nigerian Army was provided by the appellants.

It added that no sufficient fact was provided to substantiate the allegation of electoral malpractices at the polling units against the respondents.

“The appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. I hereby uphold the judgment of the Lagos State Election Petition Tribunal,” Justice Sankey held.

All the other four justices of the court affirmed and concurred with the lead judgement.

In a related development, the court also dismissed an appeal filed by the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and its governorship candidate, Owolabi Salis, also challenging Governor Sanwo-Olu’s victory.

In a unanimous decision, Justice Ayobode Shodipe, who read the lead judgement, held that the appeal of AD lacked merit and was “dead on arrival.”

“The appeal is seriously lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. The seven issues of the appellant (Salis) are hereby resolved against him,” Justice Shodipe ruled.

Meanwhile, the appellate court ordered that a cost of N200,000 should be awarded against the appellants in favour of each six of the seven respondents.

The Commissioner of Police in both appeals was, however, exempted while the total cost awarded against the appellants was N2.4 million.