The Court of Appeal has upheld the election of the House of Representatives member, Hon. Taiwo Kolawole, representing Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency in Lagos State.
The court presided over by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba ruled in favour of Hon. Kolawole’s election, faulting the case of his opponent from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Rita Orji, for lack of merit.
Kolawole is a former deputy speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly.
In the judgment delivered on Thursday, the court upheld the cancellation of the 23rd February 2019 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the declaration of Hon. Kolawole as the winner of the rerun election that took place on 27th April.
Justice Garba affirmed all the tribunal judgments, dismissing all grounds canvassed by the appellant, Hon. Orji.
Speaking on the verdict, counsel to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Tijani Ishola, expressed delight, saying the decision of the court had shown it was “important litigations have an end.”
He also expressed a strong belief that any other tribunal sitting anywhere in the country would “use this opportunity of the judgement delivered at the Court of Appeal as precedence and nobody will just run to the tribunal for the fun of it, you, first of all, think twice before you go to tribunal.
“It is a lesson to all of us that there should be an end to litigations, our client INEC has been very, very careful in doing what is just as an unbiased umpire but a lot of politicians will now see things differently,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Femi Davosta Oshinowo, counsel to the second and third respondents, Hon. Kolawole and the All Progressives Congress (APC), said justice had been done, adding that the country’s electoral law had further been enriched.
According to him, the court judges admitted all the grounds of appeal raised by his clients as it was obvious that all the pieces of evidence tendered before the tribunal by the other parties could not stand the ground.
“I think Justice has been done and to say that our electoral law has further been enriched.
“The judges also admitted all our grounds of Appeal, because it was obvious that all the pieces of evidence tendered to the tribunal were hatched by their counsel for all the witnesses.
“It was obvious that they all said the same thing and which of course did not indicate what happened in respective polling units and again many documents were dumped on the tribunal without really speaking to those documents,” Oshinowo said.
Hon. Kolawole, thanked God for the judgment, saying that his olive branch is still stretched out to his opponent Hon. Orji.
The lawmaker, who noted that he regarded Hon. Orji as his sister, also thanked his constituents for their support and prayer from day one till the very end of the court proceedings, saying they had been very committed and steadfast to this course believing nobody can steal their mandate.
“I am fulfilled, I give thanks and adoration to God because all victory belongs to God and when you are considered worthy enough by God to have victory, you should be humbled.
“I also thank my people for their support and prayer from day one till this very end, they have been very committed and steadfast to this course believing nobody can steal our mandate,” Kolawole said.
He also affirmed the need for the spirit of sportsmanship amongst the people while contesting for any political position as all was about the development of the country.
“I don’t know what we are looking for in power if not for the development of our area through the people’s support. When your contestant is saying come let’s join hands, let’s make this place develop I feel that is humane enough,” he said.
“I also lost a very topical election which could have made me the Speaker of the Lagos Assembly, I didn’t go to court, I left everything to God, believing he alone can give and whatever he has given nobody can take,” Kolawole recalled.