The Ogun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta has affirmed the victory of Ogun State Governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, as the winner of the March 9 gubernatorial poll in the state.
Upholding Abiodun’s election in a six-hour judgement yesterday, the tribunal dismissed all the petitions filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and its candidate, Hon. Abdulkabir Akinlade.
The petitioners had approached the tribunal to contest the declaration of Abiodun as the winner of the election.
They alleged that the election was fraught with irregularities and prayed the tribunal to discountenance the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC had declared Abiodun as the winner of the election, having polled 241,670 votes as against the APM candidate who scored 222,670 votes.
The petitioners, also, accused Abiodun of age and certificate falsification, alleging that the credentials submitted by the APC candidate when he contested for a senatorial election in 2015 was contrary to the ones he submitted to INEC in 2019.
Delivering judgement yesterday, the three-man tribunal led by Justice Yusuf Halilu, dismissed all the petitions against Abiọdun for lacking in merit and substance.
On the issue of over-voting and other malpractices alleged by APM and its candidate, Halilu ruled that the petition “does not only fail, but it was destined to fail. The tribunal cannot waste its valuable time on irrelevant documents on over-voting.
“Finally and in the light of everything said above, it is incorrect to contend that, the second respondent (Abiodun) did not win the election by the majority of the recorded votes.
“We are satisfied by the electoral provision of sections 27 and 69 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
“We have no reason to tinker with the outcome of the March 9 governorship election in Ogun State. This petition is destined to fail, it fails and is hereby dismissed,” Halilu ruled.
Akinlade had challenged results in 1,070 polling booths across the state, he only brought 36 witnesses.
“It is unreasonable to do such and expect meaningful judgment,” Halilu declared.
The tribunal said it is unfortunate that the APM candidate relied on a chartered accountant as a forensic expert and not a data analyst who has knowledge to discover irregularities in election materials.
On the allegations of age and certificate forgery, the tribunal dismissed it as a pre-election issue and that the petitioner ought to have filed his case within 14 days.
Halilu cited Section 285 (9) of the Electoral Act and referred the petitioner to the Court of Appeal’s ruling on Abiodun’s age issue, describing Akinlade’s petition as “lazy, fictitious, malicious and mischievous.”
Meanwhile, Abiodun, who accompanied President Muhammadu Buhari to Burkina Faso for a summit on counter-terrorism, has described his victory at the tribunal as a victory for rule of law, calling on the APM and its candidate to leave behind the 2019 governorship election
“Our victory at the Ogun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal is a victory of the rule of law. It is a validation of the people’s choice of me to serve the state by giving quality governance.
“I urge the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and its candidate to now leave behind the 2019 gubernatorial election.
“They are free to return to our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which they themselves left in the first place, and join hands with us on our #BuildingOurFutureTogether agenda. However, anyone who feels they don’t want to return should instead begin preparing for the 2023 elections.”
Abiodun thanked God for the victory and commended his team of lawyers and the APC, reassuring the people of Ogun State of his commitment to quality governance.
“This victory couldn’t have been, without God and the depth, brilliance and dedication of my legal team led by Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN). I also appreciate the support given us by the leadership of the Ogun APC.
“I reassure the good people of Ogun State of our commitment to quality governance driven by inclusiveness, fairness and equity,” he said.
Also, reacting to the victory of its candidate at the tribunal, Ogun APC commended the judgement, which affirmed Abiodun’s election, describing it “as an affirmation of a popular and overwhelming candidate.”
APC, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Tunde Oladunjoye, lauded the panel of judges for a detailed and thorough job that “is so clear, convincing and beyond reasonable doubt, noting that indeed, justice has been served.
“The party wishes to commend the judges for a thorough job done. The detailed nature of the judgement clears all doubts and reconfirms our belief that the petition by Abdulkabir Akinlade, APM and their sponsors as mere distractions by sore losers.”
However, Akinlade has called on his supporters to “remain calm” and be “thankful to God Almighty for His grace.”
Reacting to the ruling, Akinlade, in a statement by his media aide, Alao Adelami, said “upon due consultation with his lawyers and other stakeholders (party), his next line of action will be made public.”
He appreciated his followers, especially the good people of Ogun State for their support and prayed that “God’s justice shall prevail in the end.”