BREAKING: Makinde’s election as Oyo gov upheld in six-hour tribunal judgement

Dismisses Adelabu's petition for lack of merit

THE governorship election tribunal sitting in Ibadan, on Monday, upheld INEC’s declaration of candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the March 9 governorship election in Oyo State, Oluseyi Makinde as the winner of the election.

Reading the judgment in the petition EPT/OY/GOV/01/2019, filed by Adebayo Adelabu and All Progressives Congress (APC) against INEC, Oluseyi Makinde, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), head of tribunal, Justice Sirajo Muhammed held that the petitioners failed to prove allegations of over-voting, corrupt practices, substantial noncompliance with the electoral act 2010, while most of the petitioners’ witnesses based their evidence on oral or documentary hearsay, not direct eyewitnesses accounts.

Muhammed also pointed to the failure of the petitioners to plead any alternative scores against that released by INEC and prove over-voting which was a statutory basis for cancellation of results, according to the electoral act.

The tribunal head held that the petitioner failed to tender voters register, relate statement of results to a specific unit or constituency to show that there was over-voting and that if removed will substantially affect result of the election.

The tribunal also ruled out the allegation of anomalies, wrongful collation of results or unaccounted ballot papers, noting that no law compelled an accredited voter to vote.

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Muhammed held that what the electoral act could be said to have been flouted only if the number of votes cast exceeded number on voters registers or accredited voters which did not necessarily have to tally.

In dismissing the petition for lack of proof, the tribunal maintained that the petitioner failed to establish allegations of corrupt practices and irregularities as substantially affecting the electoral outcome.

Also noting that the petitioner presented 37 polling unit agents out of 1,426 polling units challenged, Muhammed held that 1,389 units were therefore deemed abandoned.

However, the tribunal invalidated the result of unit 003, ward 09, Ido local government because the returning officer produced two different results.

Following the deduction of votes from the affected unit, the PDP now polled 515,561 votes while the APC had 357,914 votes.

If the prayers of the petitioner were to be granted, Muhammed held that the PDP will have still led with 155,205 votes with PDP recording 510,319 votes as against 357,914 of the APC.

While dismissing the petition for lack of merit, Muhammed also mandated the petitioner to pay N200,000 to each of the three respondents.

Other members of the three man panel that delivered the six-hour-long judgement were Mussa Bazza and Elizabeth Orji.

Adelabu and APC, in the petition dated March 29, 2019, asked the tribunal to nullify the governorship election for substantial noncompliance with the electoral act 2010 (as amended) and order a fresh election.

The petitioners, Adelabu and APC argued that the election should be declared invalid alleging of corrupt practices, improper accreditation, over-voting, inaccurate ballot accounting, infractions, alterations, cancellations and irregularities in form EC8A.

Furthermore, the petitioners alleged disenfranchisement of voters in some polling units, mere allocation of figures for the PDP by INEC, adding that PDP’s candidate, Makinde was not duly elected by a majority of lawful voters.

As evidence to buttress its arguments, the petitioner had tendered 69 witnesses and 4,164 exhibits before the tribunal.

However, INEC, as the first respondent, replied denying allegations of irregularities and disenfranchisement of voters, asking the tribunal to dismiss the petition.

Specifically, INEC hinged its call for the dismissal of the petition on the failure of petitioners to point at specific polling units where voters were disenfranchised and failure to prove irreconcilable entries.

The first respondent added that the petitioners based their arguments on the use of terminologies, generic and imprecise allegations.

In their separate replies, Makinde and PDP regarded the petition as epileptic, unmeritorious, frivolous and lacking in merit, calling for the petition to be struck out.

Their counsels had argued that the petition’s applications were fill of uncertainty, imprecise and vague.

It would be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through the state collation officer, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe had returned Makinde elected in the March 9 governorship election having polled 515,621 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Chief Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who had 357,982 votes.

The PDP had recorded the highest number of votes in 28 local government areas while the APC won in five local government areas.

Speaking after delivery of the judgement, counsel to the petitioners, Akinola Oladeji said the judgement will be studied and necessary steps taken subsequently.

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