Oyo Election Tribunal Upholds Makinde’s Victory

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* Truth has prevailed, says governor

Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

The Oyo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Ibadan, the state capital, yesterday dismissed the petition of the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last general election, Chief Adebayo Adelabu.

The tribunal in a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Sirajo Muhammed on behalf of the three-member panel, which lasted for over seven hours, also upheld the election of Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the duly elected governor of the state.

The tribunal averred that the petitioners, Adelabu, and the APC failed to prove the allegations of corrupt practices, over-voting, improper accreditation, inaccurate ballot counting and non-compliance with the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.

It stated that he who asserts must prove, and the witness must be those who participated in the election, noting that on the evidences of PW4 and PW28, they were not in tandem with the ‘Jurant Protection Act’, and consequently dismissed the petition.

The petitioners had filed a petition challenging the declaration of Makinde by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in the state.

They also prayed the tribunal to declare Adelabu the winner of the election having scored the highest number of lawful votes or nullify the election and order a rerun.

Notable members of the PDP and opposition APC stormed the tribunal venue with many arriving as early as 6 a.m., and met security operatives on ground.

Apart from lawyers and those who have genuine business to do within the premises, those who were granted access were screened, as the tribunal commenced the reading of the judgement at about 10:15 a.m.

While reacting to the judgement, one of the counsel to Adelabu, Akin Oladeji, said he and his other colleagues, who are Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), would study the full judgment to know the next line of action after discussing with their client.

According to him, “Until we study the full judgment, then we will know the next line of action. This judgment has just been delivered, and we need to look at everything which the court has decided and see whether to take it further.”

However, the state Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, has congratulated Makinde, for his victory at the election petition tribunal.

Mustapha, in a statement issued by the state PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr. Akeem Olatunji, said the judiciary should be commended for upholding the wishes of the people as demonstrated by the pattern of voting in the last gubernatorial election by declaring Makinde as the winner.

According to the party, the governorship election petition tribunal, by its landmark ruling, had helped to restore hope to Nigerians that judgment is not for sale.

Mustapha saluted the judges for putting honesty, justice and fear of God above any other considerations to carry out their professional callings.

Also, the state Secretary of PDP, Alhaji Wasiu Adeleke, in a separate statement issued by Olatunji, commended members of the bench for being firm despite attempted rampage to destroy the judiciary, insisting that this has reinforced the hope of average Nigerians that men and women of unquestionable characters abound in the judiciary.

Meanwhile, the state Governor, Makinde, while reacting to the judgement, described the victory of the PDP, the platform he won the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state, as the triumph of truth over falsehood.

This was as he appreciated the people of the state for standing by him before, during and after the election, calling on the opposition APC to forget politics for now and join hands with him to work for the good of the state.

A statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Makinde as saying that he did not expect anything less from the election tribunal, “because truth was always constant.”

According to him, “We want to thank the people of Oyo State who have stood by us before, during and after the election, and since we have got into office. We didn’t expect anything else, because truth is constant. No matter how far a lie goes, the truth will always come out.

“We have remained focused on the task the people of the state committed into our hands. Today, we went out to Bishop Philip Academy to kick-start our programme for the provision of textbooks and exercise books, who resumed after the long vacation. We didn’t break any sweat over the petition, we have remained focused and we are pushing on with our agenda for the state.

“What I will say to the APC is that they should let us forget politics for now. We can pick up politics again by 2022. For now, let us all work together for the good of the people of Oyo State.”