On Monday, Ladi Adebutu, the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, made a request to the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta. He urged the tribunal to declare him the rightful governor of the state and the winner of the March 18 election, emphasizing that such a declaration would not lead to dire consequences.
Chris Uche the legal representative of Adebutu, expressed this during the presentation of the petitioners’ final written address before the tribunal presided over by Justice Hamidu Kunaza.
The tribunal, on that particular Monday, resumed its hearing to consider the final written arguments in a petition initiated by Adebutu against Abiodun.
In the petition marked EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023, both the PDP and Adebutu accused the INEC of not adhering to the Electoral Act and engaging in corrupt practices during the election.
Counsel to Ogun tribunal
The senior lawyer, Chris Uche, urged the election court to grant all the requested remedies, including disqualifying the second respondent, Abiodun, as a candidate in the March 18 election.
Uche further implored the tribunal to determine that all votes attributed to Abiodun by INEC were invalid and to declare Adebutu as the legitimate victor of the election. He stated, “To find that, after a proper calculation of the valid votes cast in the election, excluding the votes obtained through multiple thumbprints and ticking of ballot papers under INEC’s supervision, the petitioner secured the majority of valid votes.”
According to him, approximately 40,891 votes were impacted and wrongly credited to the second respondent.
In terms of the margin of victory in the election, Uche referenced exhibits 456, 457, 576, 609, and 617.
Uche contended that the petitioners had “successfully met the burden of proof by presenting 94 witnesses who provided crucial testimony in the case.”
He concluded by saying, “I implore my Lords to administer justice by granting the requested remedies in this matter, assuring that there will be no catastrophic consequences.”
When presenting their final written address, INEC’s Counsel, Dr. Remi Olatubora, called on the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds of lacking merit and being a waste of the judiciary’s valuable time. Olatubora argued that the petitioners had merely dumped documents on the Tribunal, stating that “all the bags and envelopes of evidence brought before this Tribunal and submitted from the bar are completely inadmissible.”
On the other hand, Wole Olanipekun, the lawyer representing Abiodun, urged the Tribunal to reject the petition in his written address. He argued that all the evidence presented by the petitioners lacked proper signatures and stamps from the appropriate authorities, deeming them “worthless, without value, groundless, and should have been invalidated from the outset.”
Olanipekun emphasized that under the law, an unsigned document holds no value and asserted that the principle of the margin of victory should not be the basis for a petition. He therefore urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, representing the APC, argued that the petitioners had made allegations of non-compliance in six local governments but had failed to specify any polling units. He also contended that the video and images of alleged political hooligans on motorcycles causing disruptions during the election were not linked to any specific polling unit.
We respectfully request, my lords, that the petition be dismissed,” Ikpeazu submitted.