Attempts by candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ibrahim Obanikoro, and Bankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, respectively, to unseat Labour Party’s Thaddeus Attah as member of the House of Representatives for Eti-Osa Federal Constituency in Lagos State, has failed as the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on Thursday, reaffirmed him as duly elected at the February 25, 2023 presidential and National Assembly polls.
Recall that the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal which sat at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, had on Monday September 11, 2023 invalidated Attah’s victory. However, Attah, who hails from Ekperi in Etsako Central local government area of Edo State, through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and professor of Law, appealed against the judgement.
The three-man panel, in its unanimous decision, agreed with Ozekhome that the lower tribunal erred when it relied on the evidence of witnesses who were not party agents where elections were held or where elections were cancelled, but only came to tender Form EC 8 which they did not author before the court.
The appellate court further held that for the tribunal to conclude that the margin of votes where elections were not held or were cancelled can sway the votes cast, the list of registered voters must be presented before it. This was not done.
In addition, the court held that the “Voters’ register was never placed before the lower tribunal”, adding that the tribunal merely relied on Form EC 8 brought by witnesses who were not even the makers.
The court also held that the elections were conclusive and faulted the tribunal’s directive to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to conduct a supplementary election within 90 days in specific polling units. On the whole, the Appeal Court wholly set aside the judgement of the lower tribunal.
The Tribunal had, in a unanimous judgement, declared the elections inconclusive and ordered INEC to conduct a supplementary election within 90 days in 33 polling units where elections did not hold.
The Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Bankole Wellington (Banky W), who was declared second in the polls, and his APC counterpart, Ibrahim Obanikoro, had both filed petitions to challenge Attah’s victory.
INEC had declared Attah winner of the election, having scored 24,075 votes, while Banky W, who was represented at the Court of Appeal by Kemi Pinhero, SAN, scored 18,668; and Obanikoro, represented by Abiodun Owoniko, SAN, scored 16,901 votes, respectively.
In his petition, Banky W had argued that the respondent was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election, and that the election was invalid because of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
The popular music artist and actor had also contended that the Labour Party candidate was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.
Obanikoro has however accepted the outcome of the case and congratulated the winner. Reacting to the judgment, Obanikoro, in his X handle (formerly Twitter), said, “I would like to congratulate Representative Jude Thaddeus Attah on his victory at the Appeal Court today.
“Let’s throw our support for him so that he will give us a good representation for the next four years in Eti-Osa.”