Tribunal: Ex- Borno Deputy Gov Dibal Testifies For Sanwo-Olu

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, appeared before the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on Tuesday to present their sole witness, Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal, in their defense against the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Dr. Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor.

Tribunal: Ex- Borno Deputy Gov Dibal Testifies For Sanwo-Olu
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal, a former Borno State Deputy Governor who chaired the Lagos State governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on May 26, 2022, testified before the three-member tribunal headed by Justice Arum Ashom.

Dibal stated that the Lagos State APC Chairman, Cornelius Ojelabi, did not violate any electoral regulations when he wrote to the state chapter of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to inform them of the party’s primary election.

Dr. Olajide Adediran and the PDP filed a petition listing two grounds of appeal, claiming that Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat were not qualified to contest the election. Adediran also argued that the Labour Party candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who was declared by INEC as having the second-highest number of votes, was also ineligible to contest.

Adediran called for the disqualification of both the APC and LP candidates for non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and the guidelines of INEC. He further accused Governor Sanwo-Olu of presenting a forged WAEC certificate to INEC and accused Deputy Governor Hamzat of swearing allegiance to another country without including his oath of declaration in his INEC Nomination Form.

The petitioner, who finished third in the election, concluded his case last week after presenting oral and documentary evidence. INEC, the first respondent, has also closed its defense in the petition. Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat, APC, Rhodes-Vivour, and the LP are listed as the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth respondents, respectively.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, Governor Sanwo-Olu and his deputy were represented by their counsel, Bode Olanipekun (SAN), who presented Adamu Dibal as their sole witness. Dibal defended the conduct of the APC primaries before the tribunal led by Justice Ashom.

Under cross-examination by Clement Onwuenwunor (SAN), counsel to the PDP candidate, the witness was asked if Ojelabi was the national chairman of the APC on May 24 when he wrote the letter to INEC. The witness responded negatively.

Dibal was then questioned on whether, according to APC’s guidelines, it is the national or state office that conducts a governorship primary election. The witness clarified that it is the National Working Committee that establishes the state committees, which then conduct the primary election in all 36 states.

When cross-examined by Babatunde Ogala (SAN), the APC’s counsel, Dibal confirmed that Ojelabi’s letter was merely informing the INEC Lagos office that the NWC had constituted a five-member committee to conduct the primary, with Dibal as the chairman.

He also stated that he submitted a report on the primary election to the APC’s national secretariat after the exercise. The report, marked as p139-144, was shown to Dibal, who confirmed that it was signed by all members of the committee and was a unanimous agreement.

During cross-examination by INEC’s counsel, Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN), Dibal stated that representatives from both INEC headquarters and its Lagos office were present during the primary election, and they signed a report on its conduct afterward. The portion signed by INEC Lagos indicated that Akanni Gabriel Abidakun led the team.

No cross-examination took place from the counsel representing the Labour Party candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. Subsequently, the tribunal discharged the witness and adjourned the proceedings to Wednesday, July 12, for the APC to present its defense.

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