Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The bid by the former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, to return to the Senate again suffered a major setback yesterday as Senator Kola Balogun of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared the winner of the Oyo North senatorial district election by the State and National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Iyaganku, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State.
The tribunal dismissed the suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ajimobi.
The unanimous decision was reached by the panel led by Justice Anthony Akpovi (Chairman), Justice Chinyere Ani and Justice Sambo Daka.
Balogun had scored 105, 720 votes to defeat Ajimobi who polled 92,213 leaving a margin of about 13, 102 votes, as announced by the electoral umpire.
The judgment, which lasted for about three hours was as read by Justice Akpovi on behalf of other members of the panel.
Justifying the decisions of the panel to throw out the petitioners’ prayers, the panel held that the APC failed to prove the petition beyond reasonable doubt arguing that only 11, 759 votes were in contention out of the total votes score recorded in the election.
Also, it added that even if all the prayers of the petitioner were granted and the votes in contention added to its score, the respondent would still have won the election with about 1,743 of the total votes cast.
Faulting the reliance of the petitioner on perceived anomalies with the card readers, the panel held that manual registers were also deployed for use in cases where card readers failed, a practice which was known and consented to by all the party agents at the polling units in contention.
Additionally, the panel faulted the appearance of party officials who came to testify in the instead of polling agents who were supposed to tender the results as well as the presentation of the card readers’ result by just anybody instead of the INEC ICT official who signed and approved the result.
While a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN) had led the legal team of the petitioner (APC) during the hearing stages, Mr. Isiaka Olagunju, Tunji Ogunrinde and Oluwasesan Dada led the teams that represented the first, second and third respondents, respectively.