GOVERNORSHIP Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta has dismissed the petition filed by the Ogun State governorship candidate of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), Abdul Kabir Adekunle Akinlade, challenging the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun.
Abiodun, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 9 governorship election, had polled 241,670 votes to emerge winner as against Akinlade who scored 222,153 votes.
But Akinlade and his party in a petition marked EPT/OG/GOV/01/19 had raised issues of lack of qualification and over-voting against Abiodun.
The petitioner had alleged that Abiodun’s Form CF001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) contained false information, claiming the electoral body aided his qualification through the form.
According to the petitioner, the alleged false information was fundamental in nature to Abiodun’s qualification to contest the March 9 election.
The chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Yusuf Halilu, while reading the judgment, which lasted for five hours, yesterday, declared that the petitioner “not only failed but irredeemably failed” to prove that the information contained in Abiodun’s Form CF001 was false and that INEC aided his qualification.
The panel also upheld that Abiodun was duly elected and returned by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the poll.
The panel further described the argument canvassed by the counsel and the evidence given by the petitioner’s witnesses during the hearing as “lazy, shallow and deficient.”
On the alleged over-voting, the panel held that out of over 1,000 polling units where illegalities and irregularities were alleged to have taken place, the petitioner only called 34 polling units agents who testified before the tribunal.
According to the tribunal, “the scanty and insufficient” witnesses called by the petitioner showed irredeemable damage had been done to the petition.
The tribunal submitted that the petitioner’s witnesses failed to tender smartcard reports and the voters’ register to justify alleged irregularities at the polling.
“The petitioner failed woefully to prove that the respondent did not score the majority of lawful votes cast and we so hold. This petition is destined to fail, it failed and it is hereby dismissed,” Justice Halilu said.
Reacting to the tribunal verdict, Governor Abiodun described the judgment as “the triumph of rule of law; victory for democracy and further validation of the mandate bestowed on him at the polls.”
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, Abiodun, said he remained magnanimous in victory and extended hand of fellowship to all opposition elements in the state.
He also called on the Allied People’s Movement (APM) and Akinlade to forget about 2019 governorship elections and support his government’s efforts to take Ogun to greater height.
“Rather than dissipating energy and resources on litigation, they should either negotiate their return to the All Progressives Congress (APC), where they were or start preparing for 2023 elections,” the governor submitted.Sunonline
– Sept. 15, 2019 @ 15:45 GMT |