Ladi Adebutu, the governorship candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has filed a petition, and the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal has deferred decision.
After parties had finished calling witnesses and offered documents in evidence, the tribunal convened on Monday so that parties could adopt their final addresses, as reported by BANKPAWA
Chris Uche argued on behalf of the petitioners in court. Remi Olatubora spoke for INEC, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the first party to answer. Second respondent Governor Dapo Abiodun was represented by Wole Olanipekun, while All Progressives Congress (APC) counsel Onyechi Ikpeazu was at the helm.
The tribunal accepted the written addresses of the respondents, in which they urged the court to reject Adebutu’s and the PDP’s appeal.
It was contended by INEC’s lawyer, Olatubora, that the petitioners’ documents were not admissible because “they were not the makers of those documents.”
Olanipekun claimed in his brief that the petitioners’ submitted materials, which had been verified by INEC, were not signed.
Documents that have not been signed by all parties are considered null and void by Olanipekun. Please reject this petition, your lordships.
Counsel for the APC, Ikpeazu, said that the petitioners did not specify which polling locations were affected by overvoting or noncompliance. He said that the entire overvoting evidence is unsupported and urged the court to “dismiss the petition.”
Uche countered by requesting that the electoral court ignore the other side’s arguments.
It was his hope that the panel would rule that “the petitioners have credible evidence which was unchallenged and are entitled to the grant of the reliefs claimed by them in the petition.”
The attempt by INEC to discredit documents it produced and approved, he said, is shameful, especially as the commission has not publicly denied the documents or presented counter documents.
Uche, dissenting slightly from the leading concept, argued that opposition to BVAS use did not disrupt elections.
He said that INEC’s reports showed that thugs had interrupted the poll and that INEC had not brought any other report or countered the incident reports from its ad hoc personnel, and that “the respondents’ witnesses also confirmed there were gunshots and people ran away.”
The petitioners’ attorney urged the court to accept their requests, arguing that INEC has failed to prove its case by failing to provide witnesses and instead relying on the petitioners’ arguments.
Meanwhile, the tribunal presided over by Hamidu Kunaza lauded the parties’ cooperation throughout the proceedings.
The court said, “Judgement is reserved until a date to be communicated to parties.”
In his post-hearing remarks to reporters, Olatubora defended INEC, saying, “As counsel to INEC, we have defended INEC, and we have made it clear to the court that the election conducted by INEC was free and fair, and the court should uphold the election.”
“The decision is that of the court; as counsels, we have put in everything that we are obligated to put in under the law; by way of evidence collected during cross-examination, we have put in relevant evidence.
“We have also put in legal arguments, legal submission, but ultimately the decision is with the court, and I prayed that God Almighty would guide them in giving a just decision in this case.”