December 4, 2023

Ogun tribunal reserves judgment in Adebutu’s petition

Ogun tribunal reserves judgment in Adebutu’s petition

The Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal has reserved judgment in the petition filed by Ladi Adebutu, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

DAILY POST reports that the tribunal resumed on Monday for parties to adopt their final addresses after they had called witnesses and tendered documents in evidence.

The petitioners were represented in court by Chris Uche. The first respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was represented by Remi Olatubora. Wole Olanipekun stood in for Governor Dapo Abiodun, the second respondent, while Onyechi Ikpeazu led the counsel for the third respondent, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

While adopting their written addresses, the respondents urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition of Adebutu and the PDP.

Counsel to INEC, Olatubora, argued that the documents tendered by the petitioners were inadmissible because “they were not the makers of those documents.”

In his submission, Olanipekun stated that the documents tendered by the petitioners were not signed, even though they were certified by INEC.

Olanipekun stated that “unsigned documents are worthless, baseless, valueless, inadmissible, and void ab initio. I urge your lordships to dismiss the petition.”

APC counsel, Ikpeazu, said the petitioners did not state the particular polling units where there was over-voting or non-compliance. He maintained that the entire evidence on over-voting has no platform, asking the tribunal to “dismiss the petition.”

Responding, Uche urged the election court to discountenance the submissions of the respondents.

He urged the tribunal to hold that “the petitioners have credible evidence which was unchallenged and are entitled to the grant of the reliefs claimed by them in the petition.”

He described as scandalous the attempt by INEC to discredit the same documents it issued and certified, saying the commission has not come out to deny the documents or present counter documents.

On the margin of the lead principle, Uche held that elections were not disrupted due to resistance to the use of BVAS.

He said INEC reports confirmed that thugs disrupted the election, and INEC did not bring any other report or counter the incident reports from its ad hoc staff, adding that “the respondents’ witnesses also confirmed there were gunshots and people ran away.

The counsel pleaded with the court to grant the prayers of the petitioners, saying INEC has no evidence by failing to call witnesses and resting his case on that of the petitioners.

Meanwhile, the Hamidu Kunaza-led tribunal appreciated the parties’ cooperation since the commencement of the proceedings.

The tribunal adjourned, saying, “Judgement is reserved until a date to be communicated to parties.”

Addressing newsmen after the proceeding, Olatubora said: “As counsel to INEC, we have defended INEC, and we have made it clear to the court that the election conducted by INEC was free, fair, and the court should uphold the election.

“The decision is that of the court; as counsels, we have put in all that we are required under the law to put in; we have put in necessary evidence by way of evidence extracted during the cross-examination.

“We have also put in legal arguments, legal submission, but the ultimate decision is with the court, and I prayed that God Almighty would guide them in giving a just decision in this case.”

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