The Labour Party (LP) is on the verge of losing both of its seats to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Lagos State House of Assembly, following the removal of its representatives by the Lagos State Election Petitions Tribunal last month.
Foluke Osafile and David Doherty, LP representatives from Amuwo Odofin Constituency 1 and 2 respectively, now face the risk of being unseated from the 10th Lagos State House of Assembly. While there’s room for appeal, the party’s future in the assembly remains uncertain.
David Doherty’s Tribunal case
On September 22, the Lagos State Election Tribunal sacked David Doherty, the LP lawmaker representing Amuwo-Odofin Constituency 2 at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
The tribunal’s major findings centered on the petition filed by the APC candidate against INEC, the Labour Party, Tunde Fashina, and David Doherty. The central issue was the candidacy of Tunde Fashina, who appeared on the ballot as the candidate of LP and received the majority of votes in the election.
Tunde Fashina, was deemed not qualified because he did not meet the minimum academic qualification required for the position and failed to fully participate in all sections of the election process before March 18, 2023, when the election was conducted. According to the petitioner, the LP had replaced him with David Doherty, who is now in the assembly.
In response to the substitution of Tunde Fashina, with the current representative, David Doherty, the LP counsel acknowledged that Doherty did not participate in the election but argued that they made the decision to swap Fashina with Doherty based on past legal judgments. However, the tribunal disagreed with this argument, stating that the judgments cited did not authorize such a swap or replacement of candidates.
The tribunal’s decision was therefore based on the Electoral Act of 2022, which stipulates that a candidate cannot be declared a winner if they did not fully participate in the election process. Following this decision, the tribunal declared Rauf Olawale Sulaiman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to present him with the certificate of return.
After the Tribunal’s decision, Doherty didn’t explicitly state whether he would appeal but reaffirmed his commitment to serving the community and “safeguarding the mandate”.
“At the moment I call for calm right round, as I make consultations with political leaders and the Labour Party family on the next line of action”, he said.
Foluke Osafile faces similar fate
Stella Foluke Osafile, the LP’s representative from Amuwo Odofin Constituency 1, is facing a situation quite similar to her party colleague. On September 27th, the tribunal declared Folorunso Olusegun of the APC as the rightful winner of the March 18 State Assembly polls in Amuwo Odofin Constituency 1.
After a review of the petitions and defense presented by both the APC and Olusegun, the tribunal concluded that the declaration of Foluke was not in line with the electoral process’s integrity.
Foluke’s removal from office comes in the wake of her recent appointment as the Chairman of the House Committee on Wealth Creation and Employment. However, she has responded swiftly, announcing her intent to appeal the tribunal’s verdict while calling for calm among her supporters.
”While the judgement is unacceptable by all standards and as far as supreme court precedent is concerned, I want to appeal to all our esteemed supporters across the constituency to maintain the same law and order that we are known for…, she said in a statement on her Twitter (X) page. “I would like to assure you all that the tribunal judgement will be appealed and we shall get the appeal court judgement in our favour.”
With both LP seats now hanging in the balance, the APC is presenting a formidable challenge –it may secure all the 40 seats in the 10th Assembly just like the 9th Assembly if the supreme court upholds the current verdict.