…Their success stories in election petition matters
Election petition process in Nigeria has unwittingly emerged a large industry with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) budgeting in excess of N6 billion for the 2023 project. This is borne out of a tripod of low public confidence on the process, the multi-party political structure and the vexed compliance issues with the electoral act – all dovetailing into a situation where almost every election ends up at the election tribunal.
This speaks loudly of how much the nation now depends on the law courts rather than the electoral body in the quest for credible elections and respect for constitutional rights. It speaks equally of the heightened value of the legal luminaries in the making of the constitutional democracy here.
With every election producing an average of four to five aggrieved politicians against the declared winner and the electoral body, election petition tribunals have turned out to offer hope for retrieving mandates to election losers and their supporters. Elections can be upheld or overturned at the tribunals on many legal and constitutional issues placed before the courts – all pointing to ‘how good is the lawyer on your side’ has become a key factor on who wins the election.
It takes legal expertise and a lot of experience in election petition procedures for lawyers to pitch their arguments in the appropriate areas to floor their opponents at the tribunal. A concluded election may be questioned on the grounds of the winner being unqualified to contest the election, corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral act or the candidate not duly elected by the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.
Each of these issues calls for a different approach and procedure as well as different types of evidences since it is no longer a game of numbers at the polls but one of tactics and strategy. And so the parties have to be quite sure of who constitutes the legal team they are taking to the tribunal.
It takes a versatile legal counsel to analyse complex electoral cases and build a formidable election petition within the 21 days provided by the law within which the case must be filed. It takes a lot of competence to navigate through the limitations of the electoral law to establish admissible evidences of corrupt practices at the polls and yet to go beyond that to prove that such corrupt practices substantially affected the result of the election.
The ability of the legal counsels to work under the pressure to meet these tight rules and lead the tribunals to overturn many election results lend much credence to the height that election petition advocacy has attained in Nigeria.
With their specialist skills devoted to a niche set of election petition and constitutional fields, these advocates are serving a crucial need as mediators, negotiators and advisors, guiding their clients to follow the legal process in pressing for electoral mandates and constitutional rights. This has yielded a lot of just legal outcomes and constitutional developments that underpin the nation’s legal system.
Innovation and dynamism are key requirements of election petition advocates, particularly as new compliance issues have emerged this year that centre around the use of technology.
This is in the light of the use of technologies provided under the Electoral Act 2022 and the innovations introduced by some relevant sections of the act. Consequently, legal counsels approaching the election petition tribunals on grounds of non-compliance have need to go to school of innovations and electoral technology that presently constitute the game changers at the tribunals.
The top 10 Magazine is excited to highlight excellence and top legal talents leading election petition advocacy across the country. We offer a showcase of exceptional contributions of the most esteemed lawyers in election petition and constitutional matters, recognizing their innovation, leadership and impact on Nigeria’s democratic progress.
This publication is a profound effort to provide a guide to the highest regarded legal talents in election petition matters in the country, having on board their chambers the largest pools of seasoned lawyers in the legal profession.
The top 10 listing constitutes outstanding lawyers, rich in diversity, expertise and exceptionality in an environment that demands ingenuity to attend to the twists and turns in legal matters that come with every new election.
These industry titans stand as a beacon of hope amid the fast depreciating public confidence in the electoral process. They made the Top 10 list in consideration of their deep understanding and experience in electoral law and practice, leadership, innovation, adaptation and entrepreneurial spirit.
We also probed for unwavering commitment to the interests of their clients, their communities and their pursuits of justice for the advancement of society. A combination of these elements of professionalism sets them apart as true principals in the specialist field in consideration.
Our purpose is to uphold the brilliance of the Nigerian legal expertise by recognizing the lawyers and their law firms working to uphold constitutional democracy and in the process enrich the legal profession and prop up public confidence on the nation’s judicial process.
For these professionals where the client and the public have now placed their confidence in their legal representation, only the best will do!
Alex Iziyion (SAN) – Principal Partner, Alex A. Izinyon and Company
Dr. Alex A. Izinyon SAN is the principal partner and head of the law chambers of Alex A. Izinyon and Company, which has been in existence since August 1987. The versatile constitutional lawyer and consultant, has conducted several landmark cases at the high court, court of appeal and Supreme Court of Nigeria.
With his vast experience in the most intricate and complex legal matters, he is counted among Nigeria’s top rankers in election petition and constitutional law advocacy.
His Abuja-based law firm has, since its inception, played a major role in fundamental cases that have helped in the development of the legal framework of Nigeria.
The depth of his legal practice has made his law firm prominent in top constitutional and election petition cases.
He was one of the lead counsels that defended the then Vice President of Nigeria Alhaji Atiku Abubakar at the court of appeal and the Supreme Court when he was sacked by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He was the coordinator and one of the leading counsels to President Umar Yar-Adua in the fall out of presidential election at the court of appeal and the Supreme Court.
He has conducted several election petition cases for several state governors, senators and members of the House of Representatives at the tribunals and appellate levels.
The company’s legal expertise covers the provision of expert advice on a full range of anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and government investigative matters in Nigeria. The law firm commands a diverse team that comprises former lead prosecution and defence lawyers in Nigeria with a track record of significant corruption cases ably handled across the country.
The company’s records show a number of high profile government investigative and corruption matters involving high net worth individuals and multinationals corporations in which it has featured. It has represented multinational corporations on a range of foreign and domestic bribery, financial record keeping malpractices and corruption matters, including global investigations and defence.
Alex A. Izinyon and Company is the law firm that successfully defended Chief James Ibori, former governor of Delta State, on the ex-convict case from the high court to the Supreme Court and won the cases all the way.
The law firm also acted as solicitors to Siemens Limited before the commission of inquiry into contracts awarded in Nigeria Telecommunication Plc and its subsidiary M-Tel Plc between 1999 and 2002.
Among other successfully defended high profile corruption cases are some bank and other corporate chief executive officers and former ministers arraigned on charges of economic crime and other criminal offences.
Alex Izinyon & Co has cross-border focus with its practice spanning Nigeria and West African countries, including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Ivory Coast. The company holds itself out with a key promise – to deliver the highest standard of legal practice across its jurisdictions.
The company points to the depth of its legal practice as the reason for its high reputation when it comes to various constitutional matters, election petitions, commercial transactions and activities for foreign investors/multinational enterprises, missions, diplomatic corps in Nigeria and the whole of Africa.
Other underlying factors to its success, it said, include detailed thought it brings into its delivery process and advice and its capacity enhanced deep understanding of the West African economies.
Izinyon was called to the Nigerian Bar after he received his B.L from the Nigeria Law School in Lagos and LL.B from University of Ibadan in 1985 and 1986 respectively. He earned his LL.M from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1991. He obtained his Ph. D in arbitration in 2004 from the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.
As a result of his vast experience and outstanding contributions to legal development in Nigeria, he was conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1999. He was the very first Senior Advocate in Nigeria among practicing legal practitioners to be so appointed in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. He is also a Notary Public of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
He is a member of various professional bodies: member, Chartered Institute of Arbitration, UK; member, the London Court of International Arbitration; member, Commonwealth Lawyers Association and member, International Bar Association.
He has to his credit several books, articles, and publications. He is the Chairman of the Law Publication Company, Acavi Publishing Company, which focuses on legal research and publication of law reports.
Wole Olanipekun (SAN) – Principal Partner, Wole Olanipekun & Company
Wole Olanipekun is principal partner, Wole Olanipekun & Co., a law firm founded in 1980 – which has made a name as the vanguard of Nigeria’s democratic progress.
The judiciary has played a major role in Nigeria’s democratic journey since 1999 and Olanipekun stands out as one of those recognised to have put in their fair shares of the work that has made any successes attained to happen.
He understands that elected leaders do face unique pressures as well as opportunities and has positioned his law firm to represent the nation’s current and future officials through their pressures and usher them into their opportunities.
The law firm defines its role as being the leader in representing Nigeria’s leaders. It therefore takes a prominent seat when it comes to matters of electoral law and election disputes in Nigeria.
Olanipekun’s law firm has served as lead counsel for the past three Nigerian presidents as well as governors of Lagos State and other states and won in all the cases. He has set the pace in many areas in the legal field and achieved legal breakthroughs such as overturning an impeachment process of a governor where it fails to comply strictly with the procedure.
The former attorney general and commissioner for justice of Ondo State, is a top member of the team of legal luminaries of President Bola Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election petition assembled on the basis of their vast experiences and outstanding successes in election petition matters, constitutional law and litigation.
Olanipekun is leading the defence counsel for Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor at the governorship election tribunal where Ladipupo Adebutu of the PDP is challenging his return by INEC as governor of the state.
He led the team of lawyers who retrieved the mandate of former governor Adams Oshiomole in Edo State and stood for former Ondo State governor Olusegun Mimiko to retrieve his mandate in the the 2007 governorship election in the state.
He also played a vital role in retrieving former governor Fayemi’s mandate by constituting a solid legal team and acting in advisory capacity to them. He led constitutional resolution of the working conflict between the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo and his then vice president, Atiku Abubakar in 2007.
The company attributes its ability to engage at the top level of election petition matters to its deep experience and proven commitment to the progress of the Nigerian society.
That, it said, has engraved its name as the law firm of choice in the making of the nation’s leaders. The company’s high profile clients on election petition cases at federal level include presidents, cabinet members, senators, representatives and other officials of government.
At state level, governors and deputy governors, houses of assembly, and others make up the company’s list of highly successful election petition advocacy in Nigeria.
Counting on its deep knowledge and experience in handling all types of election conflict, the law firm is making a firm promise to the nation – to travel the path together toward a mature democratic society. While the firm acknowledges that Nigeria has had its share of election-related conflict, it expects that the nation may yet experience a lot more.
The company has, in response to the current and anticipated challenges on election-induced conflict, built the necessary capacity with its offices in Lagos and Abuja and its team of lawyers well positioned to expertly guide the resolution of any type of election disputes.
Its capacity covers contested elections, campaign finance issues, issues of a candidate’s qualification to appear on the ballot and allegations of bribery and corruption. Others are lack of election monitoring devices, election technology problems, inter-party disputes, electoral offences and more.
Wole Olanipekun & Co gives a hint on why it has become the main destination of past and present Nigerian leaders in seeking resolution of election disputes. The first is its legal skill, which it scores unquestionable but even more than legal expertise is strong commitment to making Nigeria succeed as a democracy.
“We are humbled by every opportunity we have to help resolve an election dispute. Why? Because we view every dispute as a chance for the nation or a state to learn, to improve and to become the Nigeria that Africa needs—a beacon of leadership for the continent”, the company stated in its website.
Olanipekun is therefore set on a mission to ensure that every Nigerian receives the protections promised in the constitution, that the nation is committed to the rule of law, the supremacy of the country’s constitution and the safeguarding of human rights.
His legal house takes upon itself a responsibility to stand up for the rights of individuals whose constitutional or human rights have been infringed as a strategy to strengthen the system for the future.
In the democratic and political fields, the law firm stands out to defend the inalienable rights and privileges that belong to every Nigerian. These include the right to vote and to be voted for, privacy rights, freedom of speech, expression and movement, freedom of the press, etc.
Behind every human rights or constitutional rights case the company handles lies its commitment to apply its legal knowledge to strengthen the Nigerian democracy.
“We believe that as a democracy, it is critical for our nation to uphold the rules and norms in our constitution, as well as in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the principles of the African Union” , it stated.
On the other side of defending human and constitutional rights, the firm also advises government officials, regulators and politicians on the constitutionality of existing laws, proposed laws, regulatory rules and policies. It counts on its deep experience in fields such as policy advisory and public law to offer in-depth analysis of issues and advice on the rights and obligations of governments and their officials.
Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) – Principal Partner, Niyi Akintola & Co
Chief Adeniyi Akintola SAN is principal partner, Niyi Akintola & Co, the fiery lawyer and a politician, who has journeyed all the way from a motor boy, a mechanic and a photographer’s apprentice, to make the list of Nigeria’s most brilliant lawyers and one of the most sought after for the most difficult election petition cases around.
He is acclaimed for his tenacity, uncompromising nature, fidelity to purpose and passion for justice in pursuit of his clients’ cases. These outstanding qualities have made his law firm one of the main destinations for political aspirants seeking to enforce their rights whether for pre- or post-poll matters.
He was consistently the arrow head of the progressives’ legal battles against the conservatives and reactionary forces in Nigeria’s fourth republic. He was a member of NADECO, an opposition group to the late Sanni Abacha’s military regime.
The man, who is a turnaround from following motor to leading the law, is part of President Bola Tinubu’s legal team at the 2023 presidential election petition tribunal comprising 38 Senior Advocates of Nigeria and other attorneys.
He served as one of the lead counsels of the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu in the election petition case decided in his favour by the Supreme Court where his argument that a minority judgment has no value was upheld.
His profound legal opinion has helped to shape the constitutional position on the question of whether the appointment of a serving governor as party office holder offends the provisions of the law.
In the course of his career, Akintola has held key positions since he was called to the bar in 1986. He was a member, presidential committee on review of the 1999 constitution, member national executive committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, chairman, committee on public petitions & judiciary in Oyo State, deputy speaker, Oyo State house of assembly, among others.
He earned his law degree from the University of Ibadan in 1984 and also holds M. Sc. degree in political science. He was elevated to the revered club of Senior Advocates of Nigeria in 2001.
His law firm has, in 34 years, developed an enviable portfolio of clients and wide range experience at all levels of national and international legal services and transactions.
Apart from election petition and constitutional matters, the firm’s experience spans core litigation, commercial and financial transactions, real property and estate management, corporate legal services, capital market operations, privatization, merger and acquisitions, shipping and maritime arbitration, telecommunications and oil and gas.
In the nearly three and half decades of operations, the firm has handled countless briefs successfully running into more than multiples of 10, 000; including landmark cases that have contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria’s legal system, law reforms and the entire state of the polity.
These contributions are in pursuit of Akintola’s vision – to attain and sustain an enviable reputation as a front runner in excellent, client-focused, legal service delivery while contributing to the development of the law within and outside Nigeria through innovative legal solution and strategies.
His company’s successes in election petition and constitutional matters is in pursuit of its mission and commitment to supplying customized legal lee-way to satisfy its clients, without contravening the standard of fairness and justice.
The firm has at its command executive capacity and expertise in core litigation, electoral law and practices, constitutional law, capital market operations, financial transactions, international economic law, shipping and maritime, oil and gas, real estate, among others.
The firm operates from four state of the art offices in major cities in Nigeria and an associate office in the United Kingdom, manned by experts and seasoned lawyers in various areas of law and practice. It also has working and associate relationships with leading International law firms, particularly in the United Kingdom.
Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) – Principal Partner, Lateef Fagbemi & Co
Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, principal partner, Lateef Fagbemi & Co, is a prominent Nigerian lawyer and jurist, who has made significant contributions to the development of law and justice in Nigeria. He is the lead counsel of the 2023 All Progressives Congress’ Presidential Election Petition legal team, leading a team of twenty seven senior advocates of Nigeria.
The multi-dimensional election petition case tops a long list of high-profile cases that populate the records of his law practice. In recognition of his expertise and professionalism in the legal profession, including having served as a judge in various Nigerian courts, he has been appointed a minister by the Tinubu-led government.
His involvement in election petition cases goes beyond the immediate interest of his clients to hammer on long-term considerations of fairness and efficiency of the electoral system. He was part of a national workshop on ‘Election Petition Review’, organised by the Court of Appeal in collaboration with International Foundation on Electoral System in 2021, where he expressed his concerns on how to attain greater efficiency of the electoral process.
He links the efficiency of the electoral process to effectiveness of the electoral law. “Let nobody be taken off guard, our electoral system needs some drastic and very unpopular rejigging and amendments to the law. The sui-generis nature of electoral laws also dictates that reforms to them cannot but be unprecedented if they are to be effective”, he said.
His conviction is that it takes good electoral laws to produce credible and competent leaders – which reduces the challenges faced by both the electoral body and the courts in election petition cases.
“We cannot over emphasise the need to ensure that our electoral laws are designed in such a way to allow for the election of credible, competent and responsible leaders at all levels. Our current situation where elections are characterised by rigging and violence leaves very much to be desired on the quality of both the leadership and the followership,” he said.
Specifically, he has advised that a new electoral law that would reduce the number of political parties in the country to a maximum of six is needed to inject efficiency into the electoral process. The move, he believes, will reduce errors and confusion on the part of the electoral body, which would, in turn, limit the number of election petition cases at the courts.
His reformatory and progressive ideas also touch on governance system through appropriate structural reforms, including enhancing law enforcement practices in order to adequately equip the courts in delivering justice.
For a reformed social order and to enhance efficiency, Fagbemi is pressing for the unbundling and merger of law enforcement agencies such as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.
The courts clearly need professionally conducted investigations in order to avoid miscarriage of justice. For this reason, Fagbemi is pressing to separate state agencies involved in investigations from those prosecuting the suspects.
The idea is to forestall compromises, shallow investigations and miscarriage of justice. The investigating bodies need to take their time to do their jobs professionally; a watertight case should be established first rather than the present practice of rushing to arrest suspected offenders on the basis of mere suspicion or flimsy evidence.
“The investigation of corruption cases should not be handled by the same body that does prosecution. It doesn’t augur well to ask the same authority to investigate and prosecute. That is where we have problems” he said.
His concerns and suggestions have been enriched by diverse experience that cut across his involvement in election petition cases, constitutional matters, high-profile political cases, anti-corruption matters, among others.
Fagbemi is bringing his brilliant knowledge and versatile experience of four decades of high profile law practice into the affairs of the federal government to shape up constitutional and legal issues as attorney general and minister of justice of the federation.
The topflight legal practitioner can count on his commitment to excellence, integrity and a burning desire to improve the nation’s justice delivery system to excel in his new role.
In his new position, it has become his job to guide the government to ensure the constitutionality of its policies and actions, empower law enforcement agencies, uphold the rule of law and constitutionality in the nation.
Fagbemi attended the University of Lagos, where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 1981 and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in 1984. He was called to the bar in 1984 and soon emerged as a renowned lawyer in election petitions and other constitutional matters. He joined the league of most influential lawyers in Nigeria in 2015 when he was conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria – the highest legal title in the land.
He began his legal career as a counsel in the law firm of Gani Fawehinmi & Co. He soon established his own law firm, Lateef Fagbemi & Co and has also served as a judge in various Nigerian courts, including the federal high court and the court of appeal.
D.D Dodo (SAN) – Principal Partner, D. D. Dodo & Co
Mr. D.D Dodo is principal partner, D. D. Dodo & Co, where he has, for more than 30 years, practiced at the summit of the profession, having been conferred with the highest honour in the profession – Senior Advocate of Nigeria as far back as 2001.
Dodo is a top name among lead counsels that feature is high profile cases of election petition, constitutional litigations, among others where he has been recognized for his role in the development of election petition jurisprudence in Nigeria.
He has acted as counsel to a president, senate president, governors and members of the national assembly in a series of election petitions in Nigeria. He has also served as counsel in several matters in connection with the constitutional law and the public revenue.
He advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the compilation of the electronic voters register in Nigeria.
Leading a full-service law firm, Dodo has, in his over three decades of experience, made significant contributions to the development of the Nigerian legal terrain. Among a number of recognitions, he has been conferred with the distinguished fellowship of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. He currently serves as a member of the Taraba State Judicial Service Commission.
His law firm, which operates from major commercial cities of Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Jos, has carved a niche for itself in rendering top notch professional legal services to its clients across its jurisdictions.
The firm commands a team of lawyers it assures to be highly skilled and experienced in resolving the various complex legal issues that its clients may be challenged with.
The company also assures of the highest standard of legal skills and acumen, ethics and professional standards at its command while pursuing clients’ peculiar interests with utmost efficiency within the relevant legal frameworks and sound legal foundations.
D. D. Dodo & Co.’s high reputation in law practice hinges on what the company describes as a fine balance of the various disciplines of law within its house, which provides a cutting edge in addressing challenging legal issues and complex transactions.
The law firm combines its legal expertise with an integrated solution strategy through which its single point of contact delivers coordinated multi-jurisdictional transactional and project advisory solutions. The company is able to accomplish this through its network of international partner firms in key jurisdictions. This, it says, has made it the legal firm of choice in high profile cases across its range of services.
Joe Gadzama (SAN) – Founder and Principal Partner, J-K Gadzama LLP
Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, founder and principal partner, J-K Gadzama LLP, is one of Nigeria’s highly regarded lawyers and an outstanding learned silk in the field of election petitions and electoral disputes.
He has distinguished himself in the practice by successfully representing several petitioners and respondents in petitions and disputes arising from the various election cycles in Nigeria for over two decades. His erudite and incisive legal submissions in these matters have been captured on the pages of law reports, thereby contributing immensely to shaping electoral jurisprudence in Nigeria.
Gadzama has been quite prominent in competently handling high profile pre-election and election petition cases in the country since 1992, covering presidential, gubernatorial, national assembly and state house of assembly matters. He has acted as the lead counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, respected statesmen and high net worth individuals and politicians at different times.
He served as counsel in the presidential election petitions arising from the 2003, 2007 and 2011 general elections and the consequent appeals at the supreme court involving the presidential election petitions of Buhari and Obasanjo in and 2005, Abubakar and Yar’Adua in 2008, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011 as well as CPC v. INEC in 2011.
Gadzama’s expertise in election petitions has also been displayed in governorship election petition tribunals of various states across the country and in the appeals at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court for these petitions.
Some of the major cases in which he ably acted as counsel at the Supreme Court and court of appeal include the governorship election petitions in Imo, Rivers and Ekiti States – all in 2007.
Other governorship election petitions where he has acted as counsel are the 1999 and 2011 elections in Borno State, the 1999 governorship election petition in Gombe State and the 2003 governorship election petition in Adamawa State.
Gadzama was the lead counsel to the 1st respondent at the Supreme Court in the 2007 landmark case of Ladoja v. INEC, concerning the impeachment of the governor of Oyo State.
The learned silk also featured in other major election cases arising from national assembly elections in 1992 and 1999, the 1999 house of assembly election in Borno State and the 2007 general elections.
Gadzama is also the lead counsel for the petitioners in the 2023 Gombe State governorship election and he is also part of the petitioners’ legal team for the 2023 Nasarawa State governorship election petition.
The ability to establish himself as one of the foremost legal practitioners and highly sort after in the field of election petitions and electoral disputes lies in his track record of expertise, analytical approach, in-depth knowledge and sound legal advocacy in electoral matters across various tribunals and superior courts for over two decades.
Gadzama was called to the bar in 1986 and enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the same year. He was appointed a Notary Public in June 1996 and crowned Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1998. He was admitted into the Lincoln’s Inn, United Kingdom, in 2008. He stands out as the first SAN from Borno State and the entire north-eastern region of Nigeria and also led the class called to the Nigerian Bar in 1986 to receive the honour.
With over three decades of legal expertise built in several areas of procedural and substantive law, Gadzama has been counted as one of the 500 leading lawyers in the world by the Intercontinental Finance Magazine.
Yusuf Ali (SAN) – Principal Partner and Founder, Yusuf Ali & Company
Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali is principal partner and founder, Yusuf Ali & Co, a law firm he established in 1994. Since then, he has attained the great height of being counted among the topmost legal luminaries in Nigeria with vast experience in election petition advocacy, constitutional law and litigation, among others.
Operating from his offices at Ilorin, Lagos and Abuja, he has featured prominently in high profile election petition cases across the country. Some of the concluded cases he has handled up to the court of appeal and Supreme Court levels include the Ekiti State governorship election petition arising from the 2015 polls, Adeleke v Oyetola 2018, Osun State governorship electoral dispute, 2019 Benue State governorship election petition and Abia State governorship primary election case between Otti and Ogah in 2014.
Ali led the legal team of former Olusegu Agagu of the Peoples Democratic Party against the petition filed by former Governor Olusegun Mimiko in the 2007 election in Ondo State.
He also featured in Osun State house of representatives election dispute between Bamidele and Bello and provided professional arguments that guided a constitutional case of the removal of elected local government council officials by then Oyo State governor.
Yusuf Ali & Co., also known as Ghalib Chambers, has at its command lawyers with vast experience in various legal practice areas, groomed to meet clients’ needs for specialisation and dedication in enforcing their constitutional rights and other interests.
Ali is a 1978 law graduate of the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University where he finished with a 2nd Class Upper Division. He won the prestigious Federal Merit Award for undergraduates and a University Scholar while an undergraduate at Ife. He also graduated with a 2nd Class Upper Division from the Nigerian Law School.
He completed his Master’s degree programme in law in the same university in 1991 when he bagged his LLM. He was appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria in 1989 as a notary public.
He attained the highest professional honour at the Nigerian Bar in 1997 when he was conferred with the prestigious title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
Ali joined the law Firm of Adegboyega Awomolo & Co in 1983 and rose to become a partner before he left to establish Yusuf Ali & Co. in 1994. He has been in active legal practice for more than three decades during which he has traversed all the superior courts of record from the high courts to the Supreme Court.
He has attained the status of an iconic legal practitioner, a renowned and respected name in law across Nigeria and beyond and an inspiration to the present and upcoming generations of lawyers.
To him, his success in attaining the pinnacle of the legal profession is a combination of virtues – faith and hard work, passion, integrity and honesty as well as patience and humility.
Ali has extended his versatile knowledge and experience far and wide through his membership of many professional bodies such as Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association, American Bar Association, Commonwealth Lawyers Association, among others.
He is an associate lecturer at the faculty of law, University of Ilorin and has delivered more than 300 papers on diverse topics at various fora, including the International Bar Association conferences, Commonwealth Law Association conferences, annual conferences of the Nigerian Bar Association, among others. He had contributed toward the development constitutional law, among other legal fields through research works published in local and international law journals.
Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) – Principal Partner, Ikpeazu Chambers
Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu is principal partner, Ikpeazu Chambers, a US-trained lawyer, who was called to the Nigerian Bar as barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1984. He has made some of the most outstanding contributions in the development of the electoral and constitutional advocacy in Nigeria.
The globally acclaimed lawyer is the lead attorney for Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party in the grand battle against APC and INEC in the 2023 presidential election petition seeking to nullify INEC’s declaration of Mr. Bola Tinubu as the winner of the election.
It is an election petition that could have significant impact on Nigeria’s democracy with a seasoned legal expert, who has on numerous occasions, battled for and against INEC leading the way. By the existing law, his task at the tribunal is to convince the court that the electoral law was violated at the polls and that the violation affected the outcome of the election.
Beyond that, the petitions in the 2023 election will unearth new compliance issues that revolve around the use of technology, specifically card readers, BVAS and IReV with the Osun governorship petition in 2022 being a prelude to this new era.
Ikpeazu successfully defended Governor Adeleke’s mandate at the tribunal and final at the Supreme Court in a case that centered on the use of electronic devices at the polling boots.
The Ikpeazu-led team presents quite a formidable legal force for the petitioner to convince the presidential election tribunal on grounds of non-compliance in the use of technologies provided by the Electoral Act 2022.
Expertise and innovations will be required on the part of the legal team to be able to lead to new understandings of the innovations introduced by the new electoral act such as mandatory use of BVAS and pave the way for further improvement of the law on electronic results transmission and the use of IReV.
Some other landmark cases that Ikpeazu has handled include Anambra State governorship election petition of Ngige v Obi where he led the court to the decision that brought Mr. Peter Obi to office as the duly elected governor of Anambra State.
He further put on display his rare forensic advocacy skills that led to the trail-blazing decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Obi v INEC, which case effectively re-calibrated the election metric rule in the hitherto uniform quadrennial elections into the office of state governors in Nigeria.
Following the new rule thus established, a candidate who was wrongly kept out of office after an election he rightly won, would still start and finish un-interrupted four-year tenure guaranteed under the extant Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from the date he took oath of office as the governor of the state, barring such other circumstances as death and impeachment.
Ikpeazu conducted the defence of INEC in several election petitions, including the presidential election petition that arose from the general election in 2011. He also led the defence of the electoral body in several governorship election petitions arising from the 2015 general election, including Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Abia States. Also included are Ebony, Enugu, Bayelsa and Edo States.
He equally led the team of lawyers that represented Senator Ademola Adeleke in the Osun State governorship election petition. He also was the lead counsel in several state governorship election petitions and appeals arising from the 2019 general elections. The states include Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Enugu and Ebonyi States. Others are Abia, Cross Rriver, Oyo and Imo States.
He headed the legal team of governor Adeleke in the Osun State governorship election petition where his argument that INEC’s returning officer lacked the locus to cancel a concluded state governorship election was accepted by the tribunal.
Ikpeazu is also leading the counsels for APC in the 2023 Ogun State governorship election petition filed by the PDP’s candidate against the victory of Dapo Abiodun.
The Onitsha-born election petition specialist is also actively engaged in several senatorial and national assembly election petition cases across the country. His renowned legal expertise is equally felt beyond electoral disputes and constitutional advocacy to make waves in international arbitrations across several jurisdictions.
In criminal cases, Ikpeazu successfully defended notable individuals facing allegations of crimes, including Hon. Justice Adeniyi Ademola, former Judge of the federal high court and Late Justice Umezulike, former chief judge of Enugu State.
In recognition of his exceptional advocacy skills, he was conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 2002 and later in 2007, he was honoured by the Federal Republic of Nigeria under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua with the National Honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON). He is a fellow at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and is also a member of the Nigerian Body of Benchers.
Ikpeazu attended Evanston College, Lake Forest College and Oklahoma City University in the United States of America where he obtained Doctor of Juridical Science degree in 1982. He attended the Nigeria Law School in 1983, served in the law firm of Victor Aghayere Esq as a youth corper and completed his pupilage at the chambers of Mr. S E Oputa.
He established his law chambers in Onitsha and has since expanded his practice to Abuja. The law firm has produced more than five senior advocates, judges and magistrates. He has served as chairman of the Onitsha branch of the Nigerian Bar Association and a National Executive Council member of the national body.
Chris Uche (SAN) – Principal Partner, Chris Uche & Co
Chief Chris Uche is principal partner, Chris Uche & Co, a full service multi-sector law firm he has led for many years of successful practice to distinguished itself locally and internationally.
The firm commands expansive litigation experience and possesses a record of vast practices in all superior courts of records. “We are regularly involved in leading landmark cases in the Supreme Court and court of appeal in Nigeria” the company stated in its profile.
Uche is an acclaimed expert litigator, legal advisor and legal consultant, who has an exceptionally successful career at the Nigerian Bar to show for his services. He has distinguished himself by way of record successes achieved in both appellate courts in a range of election petitions, constitutional matters and commercial and corporate litigations.
He is a key member of the legal team of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Atiku Abubakar in the 2023 presidential election petition, a formidable legal team of 19 SANs that constitute top names with vast experience in election petition cases, constitutional law and litigation.
The challenge before the legal team of the former vice president is to convince the tribunal that the outcome of the election is invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral act that regulate the conduct of elections.
It is the duty of the legal team to lead the tribunal to a conviction that INEC failed in its duty to adhere to the provisions of the electoral laws and therefore failed to produce free, fair and credible election results.
No doubt, the duty calls for innovative approaches and technics in the questions of uploading election results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) and to establish that incidents of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the electoral act influenced the outcome of the election.
Uche is also the counsel to the candidate of the PDP in the Ogun State governorship election petition tribunal against Governor Dapo Abiodun and the APC.
He relies on an accomplished legal team to bring a wealth of experience in addressing constitutional matters, unraveling the essence of a nation’s legal framework to positively impact governance, civil liberties and the balance of power.
Chris Uche & Co. assures its clients and the nation of insightful interpretations of constitutional provisions to challenging legislative actions that may infringe upon citizens’ rights – an approach it says is powered by strong research capability, strategic analysis and unwavering commitment to justice.
“We are dedicated to safeguarding the sanctity of the constitution and ensuring that the principles upon which the nation was founded remain unshaken”, the law firm stated in its corporate profile.
The law firm boasts a team of seasoned experts, who specialize in the intricate domain of electoral law and election petitions. This is informed by its purpose to uphold democratic principles while meticulously navigating the complex electoral processes.
The firm holds itself out with assurances to aspiring candidates and political parties seeking guidance on campaign compliance, concerned about potential irregularities or with puzzling questions about election petitions that it stands for all as steadfast advocates. “Our experience extends to challenging election results and ensuring that the integrity of the democratic system is preserved, the company stated.
The full service, multi-sector law firm extends its specialist services to general practices, covering all areas of the law. Its successes in all superior courts of record through numerous landmark cases serve as credible testimonies to its claims. It points to expansive experience in vast sectors of the law for its distinction in both local and international jurisdictions.
It underscores a major attraction of its legal services that compel clients to seek repeat performance if necessary: a genuine understanding of the importance of each case to the client and the meticulous attention to detail, personalized care and a relentless pursuit of justice that govern the approach of every matter it handles.
The company looks beyond courtroom victories in its commitment to top-notch service delivery by forging strong attorney-client relationships. It invests time in understanding the clients’ unique circumstances, objectives, and challenges by which it gets well equipped to tailor its legal strategies and deploy all resources at its command within the ambits of the law to ensure client satisfaction.
Uche is a 1980 law graduate from the University of Lagos with a Second Class Honours Upper degree and after excelling once again with Second Class Upper grade in the professional training at the Nigerian Law School, he was called to the bar in 1981. He is the principal and proprietor of Chris Uche SAN & CO., from where he has provided outstanding legal services for over 40 years and handled several cases of national interest and constitutional importance.
He was elevated to the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2003. He is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.
Akin Olujimi (SAN) – Principal Partner, Akin Olujimi & Akeredolu
Chief Akin Olujinmi , former attorney-general and minister of justice, is principal partner, Akin Olujimi & Akeredolu, a law firm he established in 1986 in partnership with Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Esq.
The partners have enjoyed remarkable success together in both the legal and political fronts evidenced by their joint victory in the course of the 2020 Ondo governorship election legal battle. Olujinmi led a team of 46 lawyers at the election petition tribunal in defence of the electoral victory of Governor Akeredolu – the APC candidate in the case brought by Jegede of the PDP.
The defence counsels successfully shifted the essence of the case from the petitioner’s argument on grounds of candidate’s sponsorship to one of validly of his nomination, which the petitioner failed to prove.
Olujimi is the lead counsel for President Bola Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election petitions to nullify his election. Following once again the technical issue in the Jegede v Akeredolu case, the defence lawyers shifted the issue in consideration from the petitioners’ focus of non-transmission of electoral results to whether the non-transmission nullifies the results.
In their argument, failure to transmit election results to IReV should not change the results, as it does not contravene the law though it runs contrary to INEC’s own set rules for the game and despite that the electoral body’s guidelines were based on the electoral act.
While the petitioners at the presidential election petition tribunal pleaded corrupt practices and non-compliance with the electoral act, the defence counsels shifted the ground for decision – that non-compliance has not substantially affected the result of the election.
They roll the ball back to the petitioners to establish by evidence that non-compliance with the act effected the outcome of the election – which is the condition for election petition to succeed on the grounds of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the electoral act.
Olujimi featured in the July 2022 Osun State election petition as counsel to the former governor – Adegboyega Oyetola against the declaration of Governor Ademola Adeleke as the winner of the election. He successfully argued the case at the appeal court – which nullified the election before the supreme court overruled the decision.
He was also the counsel to the APC in the election petition arising from the June 2022 Ekiti State governorship election where he won the case.
He stirred a major legal battle that highlighted several electoral matters at the Rivers State election petition tribunal for the 2015 election when he served as counsel to the APC’s candidate – Dakuku Peterside. He led the tribunal to a ruling that nullified Wike’s election – which was upheld by the court of appeal but finally overturned at the supreme court.
Olujinmi holds an LLB (Hons) degree from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1979. He worked at Pan-African Gas Distribution, NISER and University of Ibadan, before setting up the law firm in 1986 –which operates from its offices in Ibadan and in Abuja.
He attained the status of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1997 and was appointed Nigeria’s attorney general and minister of justice in 2003.