Dr Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship Candidate in Lagos State, has taken his counterparts in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Labour Party (LP), Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, to the election tribunal.
Recall that Jandor, who ran against both Sanwo-Olu, who won the governorship election in the state, and Rhodes-Vivour, who finished second, has accused both of violating some provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.
It was gathered that in a petition marked EPT/LAG/GOV/01/2023, dated 7th April 2023, filed at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Lagos State, the petitioners, Jandor and the PDP, are challenging the outcome of the March 18 governorship election on grounds of substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Law as well as the INEC guidelines.
As a result, the petitioners are requesting that both the APC and Labour Party flag bearers in the state be disqualified from running in the elections.
The INEC is the first respondent, followed by Governor Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Hamzat Kadri Obafemi; the All Progressive Congress (APC), the Labour Party governorship candidate, Rhodes-Vivour, and the Labour Party are listed as the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth respondents, respectively.
Besides non-compliance with relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the petitioners in their petition, and based on the statement made available to pressmen by its spokesperson, Hon. Hakeem Amode, are claiming that at the time of the governorship election held on March 18, 2023, Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat, and Rhodes-Vivour were not qualified to contest the election and, therefore, prayed the Tribunal to declare wasted all votes cast for them in the election.
The first ground against the APC is the non-compliance with the INEC Time Table and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election which stipulated that all political parties must give 21 days’ notice to INEC before the conduct of the primary election and such notice must emanate from the National Headquarters of the political party and signed by its National Chairman and National Secretary respectively.
According to the petition, contrary to this provision, it was the Lagos State chapter of the APC through its letter dated 24th May 2022 that notified the State Resident
Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the party primary election held on 26th May 2022, with details of the venue of the said primary, declaring that such notification from the state chapter of APC was, therefore, invalid, null and void going by the Electoral Act 2022.
According to the petitioners;
The second ground bothers on the failure of the APC to comply with the requirement of the Electoral Act 2022 that every political party sponsoring a candidate in the general election shall submit the nomination form of such candidate(s) not later than 180days before the conduct of the general election in forms EC9.
The third ground is on the omission of the Oath page in Form EC9 for the 3rd respondent, Dr Hamzat Kadri Obafemi, the APC deputy governorship candidate which would have shown that it was not endorsed by the Commissioner for Oath within the time prescribed by the Electoral Law 2022 and without the oath page, the entire form EC9 and the information therein are worthless.
Lastly, Sanwo-Olu failed to attach a copy of the GCE O’Level result in he claimed to have sat for in 1981 along with his form EC9 as required by the Electoral Act 2022.
PDP said this development sparked a curiosity, with Jandor and his party applying for the CTC of Governor Sanwo-Olu 2019 from CF001, and it was then discovered that a Statement of Result issued by Ijebu Ife Community Grammar School, Ijebu-Ife for May/June 1981 GCE O’Level Examination with examination number 17624/118 which he submitted for his first term election as governor of the state was not confirmed by WAEC.
When Jandor and PDP approached WAEC for confirmation, they were directed to purchase the scratch card for verification of the WAEC result scratch card, which then confirmed the results as not emanating from WAEC, it came back to be fake results.
The petitioners said Rhodes-Vivour and his party, did not comply with the requirement of the Electoral Law in the conduct of the primary election that produced him as the candidate, adding that the notice of the primary election was issued by the state chapter of the party as against the provision that it must be issued and signed by the National Chairman and Secretary of the party respectively.
The petitioners also claimed the Labour Party used Statutory Delegates who are members of the Lagos State EXCO/Caretaker Committee in the conduct of her substitution primary election on 10th August 2022 contrary to the provision of the Electoral Act 2022.
The petition established that Form EC9 for Rhodes-Vivour was signed under oath and submitted to INEC on the 4th of July 2022, exactly 37 days before the holding of the substitution primary election of the 10th of August 2022 that produced him as the candidate of the Labour Party, saying that this made his nomination invalid.
Furthermore, the petitioners asserted that Rhodes-Vivour was still a member of the PDP as of 18th June 2022 when he claimed, again under oath to have registered as a member of the Labour Party, saying that documentary evidence and newspaper report establishing his participation in the screening exercise for the running mate to the governorship candidate of the Lagos PDP, Jandor, on the 22nd of June 2022 was provided in the petition.
In line with the provision of the Electoral Act, the candidate for the office of Governor of Lagos State is not allowed to be a member of more than one political party at the time of being sponsored as a candidate for the general election, therefore his nomination is invalid, PDP and its governorship candidate said.
Jandor and Lagos PDP premised on these, prayed the Election Petition Tribunal to declare all the votes cast for APC and Labour Party in the 18th March 2023 governorship election as wasted votes since their candidates were not qualified to have participated in the election, and, as the winner of the said election.
They demanded that having scored the third-highest number of votes in the election and having satisfied the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 that Jandor of the PDP is declared a validly qualified candidate by the Tribunal to be returned as the winner of the said election.