Touchaheart – On Friday, the Supreme Court of Nigeria confirmed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State was duly elected in the March 18 governorship election.
The highest court in the land rejected two appeals that sought to overturn his victory on the grounds of his deputy’s citizenship.
Who Challenged Sanwo-Olu’s Election?
The appellants were Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP) and Mr. Abdulazeez Adediran, also known as Jandor, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They both contested the election against Sanwo-Olu, who was the flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
What Was the Basis of Their Appeals?
The LP and its candidate, Rhodes-Vivour, argued that Sanwo-Olu was not eligible to run for governor because his deputy and running mate, Obafemi Hamzat, had dual citizenship of Nigeria and the United States of America (USA).
They claimed that this violated Section 28 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which prohibits a person from having more than one citizenship if he or she wants to hold public office in Nigeria.
The PDP and its candidate, Adediran, also challenged Sanwo-Olu’s election on similar grounds, as well as alleging irregularities and malpractices during the election.
How Did the Supreme Court Rule on the Appeals?
The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel headed by Justice Inyang Okoro, dismissed the appeals as lacking merit.
The court upheld the submissions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, and the APC, who all asked the court to throw out the appeals for being incompetent.
The court agreed with the lower courts, namely the Lagos State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, that had earlier dismissed the appeals and affirmed Sanwo-Olu’s election.
What Was the Reasoning of the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court, in its lead judgement delivered by Justice Mohammed Garba Lawal, said that there was no proof that Sanwo-Olu’s deputy, Hamzat, renounced his Nigerian citizenship.
The court explained that Section 28 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, only applies to a person who acquired another citizenship by naturalization or registration, not by birth.
The court stated that there is no law that deprives a Nigerian citizen by birth of his or her status, rights, and privileges because of obtaining another citizenship through naturalization.
The court said that the Court of Appeal was correct in upholding the judgement of the tribunal that Sanwo-Olu and his deputy were not disqualified from contesting the governorship election.
Therefore, the court dismissed Rhodes-Vivour’s appeal as lacking merit.