Lagos paid N200 million to Tunde Ogala, other APC lawyers to defend Sanwo-Olu in pre-election lawsuit: Document

 

The Lagos State government budgeted at least N200 million as legal fees to defend the incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, in the electoral tribunal, records from the state government have shown.

According to details of the Lagos State government procurement agency, titled “Letter of Award Registered for January 2023,” the state government’s ministry of justice hired four seasoned senior advocates to represent the governor and his deputy at various stages of the legal battle.




The lawyers are Raji Lawal, a senior advocate and his firm, Ahmed Raji & Co., and Babatunde Ogala, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.

The two other lawyers, Akinboro & Co, and Femi Okunnu, were contracted to represent Mr Sanwo-olu and Mr Hamzat, respectively.


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According to the state government procurement budget allocations, the lawyers were paid a total of N 50 million each through the state ministry of justice, a development which many Nigerians on social media have described as morally and legally extravagant for a state government to use state funds to defend a sitting governor in a private matter such as an election dispute.

“Instruction to Represent and Defend Mr Sanwo-Olu Babajide Olusola in Suit: No; FHC/CS/1979/2022- Peoples Democratic Party Vs Independent National Electoral Commission and 42 ORS,” the lawyers’ project description for their allotment says.

In March, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Mr Sanwo-Olu as the winner of the Lagos governorship election.

Mr Sanwo-Olu defeated Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP), who received 312,329 votes, with a total of 762,134 votes. PDP candidate for governor Abdulazeez Adediran received 62,449 votes, placing him in a distant third place.

The PDP and LP candidates, dissatisfied, filed a petition with the Lagos State election petitions tribunal to have Mr Sanwo-Olu’s victory declared void.

On September 25, the tribunal ruled against Messers Adediran and Rhodes-Vivour’s lawsuit, which attempted to overturn Mr Sanwo-Olu’s election victory.

Dissatisfied with the decision, Mr Jandor submitted 34 grounds of appeal against the tribunal’s ruling on October 13.

But ruling last week Wednesday, the Appeal Court in Lagos affirmed the judgement of the tribunal, confirming the return of Mr Sanwo-Olu and Mr Hamzat as the governor and deputy governor of Lagos state.

The details of the Lagos State government’s procurement contract awards, however, have come under heavy fire from the public.

Many Nigerians have criticised the state government for engaging in lavish spending, such as awarding contracts of over N7 million for air fresheners for the “Office of Mr. Governor.”

In a letter to Mr Sanwo-Olu on Saturday via a post on X, Action Democratic Congress (ADC) governorship candidate in Lagos State in 2023, Funsho Doherty, attacked the governor on a few of his projects.

In his words, the governor’s office received N18.5 million for the “supply and distribution of 2,000 Noiler chicken across the local government areas and wards in the state.” The chief of staff’s Office.

“It is not clear why the Office of the Chief of Staff should be engaged in the supply and distribution of chicken across the state,” stated Mr Doherty.

He highlighted the state would be spending N531 million to renovate Saint Andrews Anglican Church in the Oke-Popo area of the state as part of another project overseen by the minister of home affairs.

“I just wrote an open letter to the governor on Public Procurement awards reported by LASG for the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2023, highlighting a number of issues for further scrutiny and remedial action,” he wrote on X.

“Judicious use of public funds is always important and is especially so now.”

He, therefore, requested the governor to review the projects.

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