The State and National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja, yesterday upheld the election of Senator Oluremi Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Lagos Central Senatorial Constituency.
In a unanimous ruling which lasted for about seven hours, the three-man panel that was chaired by Justice Kunaza Hamidu, and assisted by Justice W.R. Olamide and Justice S.I. Okpara, dismissed the petition filed by Adesunbo Onitiri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the ground that the petitioner failed to establish any prima facie case against Mrs. Tinubu.
The tribunal, in its judgment, held that “the petition lacked merit and is hereby dismissed. The declaration of Senator Oluremi Tinubu by INEC as winner of February 23 National Assembly election is hereby affirmed.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Mrs. Tinubu winner of the February 23 election in Lagos Central Senatorial District.
The Returning Officer, Prof. Oyeyemi Oyedola of the University of Lagos, said Mrs. Tinubu polled 131,735 to defeat her Onitiri in that election.
Not satisfied with Mrs. Tinubu’s victory as declared by INEC, Onitiri filed the petition against the senator, APC and INEC challenging the result of the Lagos Central Senatorial District election over alleged irregularities.
Onitiri alleged in the petition filed by his lawyer, Onome Akpeneye that INEC wrongly declared Mrs. Tinubu as the winner of the polls with 131,725 votes, while he was said to have scored 89,107 votes.
The petitioner claimed that the INEC ought to have declared him the winner of the election instead of Mrs. Tinubu, claiming that he scored the highest lawful votes cast at the election.
Onitiri further alleged that the results declared by the INEC was fraught with vote-buying, violence, over-voting, inducement of voters with monetary and material gains as well as campaigning and lobbying voters on the day of election.
Responding to the allegations through their lawyers, Ezekiel Ashade and Busayo Onabanjo, the respondents, Mrs. Tinubu, APC and INEC prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantive costs on the ground that it was a mere lies.
During trial, Ashade filed two applications on behalf of Senator Tinubu and APC while Onabanjo filed one application for INEC, in which they objected to certain paragraphs in the petition and urged the tribunal to strike them out as they were vague and lack substance.
The tribunal granted the prayer of the respondents and struck out the ‘offensive’ paragraph and concluded that the National Assembly elections from which Mrs. Tinubu emerged winner was held in accordance with the electoral act and other relevant laws.