James Sowole in Abeokuta
The Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal, yesterday, reserved judgment in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate Hon Ladi Adebutu, against the re-election of the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun in the March 8, 2023 Governorship Election in the state.
At the resumed sitting of the tribunal, the Ogun State governor and the APC, urged the three-man panel, to dismiss the petition filed by Adebutu and his party against Abiodun.
Counsels to all the parties adopted their final written addresses.
The Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Hamidu Kunaza, told the counsels that the final day of the judgment would be communicated to all the parties.
Adebutu had approached the tribunal, to challenge the declaration of Abiodun as the winner of the governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying that the election was marred by corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
In their separate submissions however, counsels to the 1st respondent (INEC), Mr Remi Olatubora (SAN), 2nd (Dapo Abiodun), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), and the 3rd (APC), Mr Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), told the tribunal that the petitioners failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Counsel to INEC, Olatubora, prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition for being absolutely unmerited and a waste of the tribunal’s precious time.
He said that allegations of corrupt practices, non-compliance, multiple thumb printing of ballot papers, ballot stuffing, and forgery as alleged by the petitioners were not proved beyond any reasonable doubt
He described the testimony of the witnesses brought by the petitioners as hearsay, which is not admissible in law.
Counsel to Prince Dapo Abiodun, Chief Wole Olanipekun, (SAN) in his final address, described Adebutu’s petition as a mere academic exercise.
He noted that the soul of the petition was not duly signed and stamped and, therefore, lacked merit to be adopted and should be struck out.
He said, “The document is not signed, not dated, no heading, no title, no identity, no signature, no stamp. The CTC has no signature.”
However, in his counter-argument, Counsel to Adebutu, Chris Uche, SAN, told the tribunal that all documents presented by the petitioners were obtained from INEC.
He urged the tribunal to declare Adebutu the winner of the governorship election or, in the alternative, order a rerun of the election in 99 polling units where he alleged that there were disruptions
Counsel to APC, Tayo Oyetubo, who spoke to journalists shortly after the adjournment, said the respondents had presented a good case, even as he expressed confidence that the judgement would be in their favour.
He said: “All parties have addressed the court on the case before the court, and the matter has been adjourned for judgment. The case that was brought to the tribunal was attacked on different grounds in terms of competence, in terms of substance, and in terms of the quality of the witnesses that were brought, all of those issues have been adequately canvassed before the court and in a nutshell, the respondents are confident that they’ve done a good job and winning the case.”
The APC and Prince Abiodun had described Adebutu and PDP’s petition as a wild goose chase.
This, they said, was because Adebutu and PDP presented tutored and unreliable witnesses, relied on documents that contradicted their witnesses’ case, and presented experts whose testimonies and documents lacked probative value.
They argued that Adebutu and PDP, who are accused of vote buying with credible evidence, had unclean hands and could not receive equity with those unclean hands.