Labour Party’s Gubernatorial Candidate Asserts Unconstitutionality in Election Dismissal

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Labour Party's Gubernatorial Candidate Asserts Unconstitutionality in Election Dismissal
Labour Party’s Gubernatorial Candidate Fights Against Election Petition Dismissal

Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP), has asserted that dismissing his petition challenging the 2023 governorship election results in the state would amount to an endorsement of unconstitutionality. Rhodes-Vivour, through his legal representative Olumide Ayeni (SAN), delivered his final written response to the closing statements of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat, who were declared victors by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the March 18 Governorship elections in Lagos State.

Rhodes-Vivour, framing his petition as a “litmus test” of the constitution’s primacy over other laws, highlighted Sections 182 (1)(a) and 187 (1) & (2) of the Constitution, which pertain to allegiance to foreign countries and the nomination of a deputy governorship candidate, respectively. He contended that dismissing his petition could pave the way for individuals with loyalties to foreign entities to ascend to power, potentially jeopardizing national security.

The petitioner’s argument centered on Sanwo-Olu’s alleged invalid election due to his selection of Hamzat, who, according to Rhodes-Vivour, breached constitutional provisions outlined in Sections 182 (1)(a) and 187 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Moreover, Rhodes-Vivour asserted that the election conducted by INEC was tainted by violence, overvoting, disenfranchisement, thuggery, and electoral irregularities that contradicted the Electoral Act 2022.

To substantiate his case, Rhodes-Vivour presented ten witnesses, while Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat presented only one.

In a final written address submitted on July 28, Rhodes-Vivour raised a preliminary objection to the validity of the final written addresses of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat. He questioned whether their submissions complied with the Election Judicial Proceedings Practice Directions, 2022. Rhodes-Vivour claimed that the respondents’ documents exceeded the prescribed page limit and deviated from the specified font size and line spacing.

Emphasizing the distinct nature of Election Petition proceedings, the petitioner urged the tribunal to dismiss Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat’s final written addresses as invalid, citing violations of the established rules.

Rhodes-Vivour reiterated concerns raised during the pre-hearing phase, notably Hamzat’s declaration of allegiance to the United States. He contended that this act disqualified Hamzat from being nominated as the Deputy Governorship Candidate. Rhodes-Vivour’s position was bolstered by affidavits and expert testimony, which he argued pointed to Hamzat’s ongoing allegiance to the United States.

Referring to Section 182 (1) (a) of the Constitution, Rhodes-Vivour maintained that Hamzat’s allegiance declaration lacked the necessary exceptions outlined by the National Assembly, thus disqualifying him from the position.

Rhodes-Vivour contended that Sanwo-Olu was also disqualified due to Hamzat’s disqualification, given their joint ticket. In his closing remarks, Rhodes-Vivour invoked Lord Denning’s wisdom, stating, “Justice must be rooted in confidence, and confidence is destroyed when right-minded people go away thinking.”

He implored the tribunal to uphold constitutional supremacy, safeguard national sovereignty, and enforce the disqualification provisions that prohibit individuals lacking complete fidelity to the country from occupying high-ranking government positions.

Should the tribunal concur with Rhodes-Vivour’s arguments and find both Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat disqualified, he proposed that the rightful course of action would be to declare him, the petitioner, as the legitimate victor of the Governorship Election held on March 18, 2023.

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