The Lagos Division of the Appeal Court on Thursday reinstated Thaddeus Atta of the Labour Party as the duly elected House of Representatives member representing Eti-Osa Federal Constituency.
The Lagos State National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal had held that the elections were conclusive, thereby directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a supplementary election within 90 days in specific polling units.
The PDP’s Bankole Wellington (Banky W), who was declared second in the polls, and the APC’s Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro had both filed petitions to challenge the elections of Feb. 25th, 2023.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Attah winning the February 25 election, having scored 24,075 votes, while Banky W and Obanikoro were said to have achieved 18,668 and 16,901 votes, respectively.
However, the three-member panel of the appellate court yesterday set aside the previous decision by the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal.
The Panel in its unanimous decision held that the lower tribunal erred when it relied on the evidence of witnesses who were not party agents where elections were not held or where elections were cancelled but only came to tender Form EC 8 which they did not make before the court.
The Court further held that for the tribunal to come to the conclusion that the margin of votes where elections were not held or cancelled, can sway the votes cast, the list of registered voters must be presented before it.
The court held that “Voters’ Register was never placed before the lower tribunal, adding that the tribunal merely relied on Form EC 8 brought by witnesses.
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, Appeal Court set aside the judgement of the lower tribunal.
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 musical 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.