Tribunal Reserves Judgment in Osun Guber Election Dispute

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Ademola Adeleke

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Thursday fixed judgment on a date to be communicated to parties in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, challenging the emergence of Governor Isiaka Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the September 2018 Osun State governorship election.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo made the announcement after counsel to parties adopted their written addresses and made their final submissions in the suit.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Oyetola as winner of the September, 2018 Osun State governorship election, having scored the highest number of votes cast in the election.

However, both the PDP and its candidate, Adeleke, not satisfied with the outcome of the election had approached the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja to declare them as winner of the governorship election in Osun State.

Yesterday’s proceedings which had in attendance, Governor Oyetola, saw both counsel in the suit urging the tribunal to aligned itself with their position and grant their reliefs sought.

Oyetola, who was dressed in a white agbada was accompanied by some officials of the state, declined to speak with the media, who sought his views at the end of the tribunal’s proceedings.

On the side of the respondents are Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to Oyetola; Akin Olujinmi (SAN), APC, while Lasco Pwahomdi appeared for INEC, and Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), represented the petitioners.

In adopting their separate final addresses, Olanipekun, Olujinmi and Pwahomdi urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the petitioners have failed to prove their case.

Ikpeazu on his part, urged the tribunal to uphold the petition and grant all the reliefs prayed by the petitioners.

Olanipekun in his argument posited that the petitioners’ final written address draws the tribunal’s attention to the futility of the petition, adding that the petitioners presented a different case from what is contained in their pleadings and reliefs sought.

According to him, the petitioners wanted the tribunal to nullify the Certificate of Return issued to Oyetola, which they said was with the second respondent, yet did not give him any notice to produce it.

He told the tribunal that based on the ruling of the presidential election tribunal in its March 6 ruling, the provision of Section 105 of the Electoral Act restricts the power of the tribunal.

The senior advocate stated that electoral jurisprudence was about proof in accordance with the law and precedence.

While urging the tribunal to dismiss the petition, Olanipekun stated that the petitioners asked for something in their petition but stated another thing in their address, adding that the petition was full of confusion.

On his part, the APC counsel, Chief Akin Olujinmi, stated that the testimonies of all the 63 polling agents called by the petitioners had no probative value.

He added that the remaining witnesses called by the petitioners have nothing to do with polling units.

Responding, Ikpeazu submitted that based on the result of the election of September 22, 2018, the first petitioner, Senator Adeleke, had satisfied the provisions of the law and ought to have been declared the winner of the election.

The senior lawyer dismissed respondents claims that the petitioners dumped documents on the tribunal, stressing that the documents were sufficiently used by witnesses called by the petitioners while testifying before the tribunal.

He stated that the petitioners tendered the pink copies of result sheets as well as the certified true copies (CTCs) of the original sheets, which were doctored, altered and mutilated and clearly showed discrepancies to the pink copies.

Ikpeazu told the tribunal that it was for INEC to defend the irregularities reported by the petitioners, adding that while the Returning Officer could not act beyond the provision of the law, the electoral body could not act outside of the provision of Section 179 of the Electoral Act.

After listening to the submissions of parties, Justice Sirajo, adjourned judgment to a date that he said would be communicated to parties.