Youth Party has exercised its right to appeal against the decision of an electoral tribunal in Lagos on30th September 2021, which dismissed our Election Petition challenging the result of the Councillorship Election of Ward A, Eti Osa Local Government Area, Lagos State. The election held on 24th July 2021 was marred by a scheme of irregularities which substantially undermined the will and expression of the voters in Ward A, Eti Osa Local Government Area, Lagos State.
The Election Petition was dismissed on 29th September by an Electoral Tribunal chaired by Hon. Justice Onigbanjo (Retired).
The Notice of Appeal was filed on Monday, 4th October, 2021. Whilst, the Appellant Brief of Argument was filed on Thursday, 7th October, 2021. This notwithstanding that the Appeal Tribunal had not been constituted and is yet to commence sitting. By law, the appeal must be heard and determined within 21 days from the judgment appealed. That time will elapse on Monday, 25th October, 2021.
Youth Party has argued that the Lower Tribunal was wrong to conclude that all the grounds of the election petition were criminal in nature and needed to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. We argue also, that the Lower Tribunal totally disregarded the evidence adduced on over voting and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Laws of Lagos State.
The crux of Youth Party’s Petition, was over voting (more votes recorded than the number of registered voters) in many of the polling units, the failure of election to hold in at least two polling units and the systematic disenfranchisement of voters occasioned by the late arrival of election materials and the illegal relocation of several polling units. These were proved beyond reasonable doubt as no doubt was raised by the Respondents. The Tribunal failed to refer to any doubt over the occurrence of over voting and substantial non-compliance.
Specifically, there was clear and unchallenged evidence of overvoting in at least 8 polling units (PUs 3,4,5,8,9,10 and 11)of the 16 Polling Units where the number of votes were more than the total number of accredited voters. Furthermore, no election result was recorded for polling units 13 and 14a even on the summary of results used to return APC.
Election started in polling unit 13 at 3:15pm for an election that was meant to end at 3pm after most voters had left. Wrong materials were brought for polling unit 14a. The total no of registered voters in the polling units is 1,916. Whilst, the disputed winner scored a total of 1,543. The disputed winner should not have been declared in the first place due to the difference between the number of registered voters where election did not take place and the margin of the disputed victory.
Also, the Party argued that no sufficient details were given of the notice of location of polling units, which left voters in the dark and suppressed the turn out rate in Lekki Phase 1. Polling units 16, 16A, 17 and 18 in Lekki, Phase 1, with more than 10,000 registered voters were administratively disenfranchised from voting at the Election. The above stated facts were uncontroverted.
Youth Party is concerned over the negative effect of electoral malpractice, which continue to lead to voters apathy and imperil our hard fought democracy.
Voters turnout in Lagos State is currently less than 10% (Lagos East Senatorial District Bye Election and the Local Government Election), which suggests disturbingly, that voters are losing confidence in the electoral process at an alarming rate. Turnout was 69% at the 2003 Presidential Election and 34% at the 2019 Presidential Election.
Youth Party restates its strong resolve to challenge the unconscionable and brazen acts of electoral malfeasance that were perpetrated, at Ward A, Eti Osa Local Government on 24th July 2021, to a logical conclusion. This is in line with its ideology of expanding the democratic space in the interests of all Nigerians.