UPDATE: Ogun Tribunal throws out Akinlade’s petition against Abiodun

The Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Saturday, struck out the petition of the candidate of the Allied People’s Movement,  Hon. Adekunle Akinlade against Governor Dapo Abiodun.
Akinlade who was the first petitioner in a petition marked EPT/OG/GOV/01/19 prayed the tribunal to nullified the declaration of Abiodun as the duly elected winner of the March 9 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The petitioner prayed the Tribunal to declare him as the winner of the election on two grounds that Abiodun falsification of documents and that the election was marred with over voting in many polling units across the state.
Akinlade alleged that Abiodun in his Form CF001 submitted before INEC contained false information, adding that the electoral body aided his qualification through the form.
The petitioner posited that the alleged false information was fundamental in nature to Abiodun’s qualification to contest the March 9 election.
However,  the three-man tribunal in a unanimous judgment delivered by its chairman, Justice Yusuf Halilu, upheld the election of Abiodun, as the winner of the election.
They argued that the first petitioner failed in its entirety to prove the case of over-voting during the election and that the issues of false information was a pre-election matter that had been decided by the Court of Appeal.
In the judgement that lasted well over five hours, the tribunal members lampooned counsel to the petitioner based on his argument on the petition, and also described the evidence given by the petitioner witnesses as “lazy, shallow and deficient.”
The tribunal said the inability of the petitioner to bring up sufficient witnesses to bring up evidence had done “irredeemable damage” to the petition.
On the issue of over-voting, the tribunal said the petitioner only presented 34 polling units agents out of 1,000 polling units where illegalities and irregularities were alleged.
The panel further held that petitioner witnesses failed to tender smart card reports and the voter’s register to justify alleged irregularities at the polling.
The Panel averred, “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.”
The tribunal had earlier in the day quashed the issues while delivering its rulings on two preliminary objections.
The panel in a unanimous ruling held that the matter was a pre-election matter which ought to have been challenged within 14 days Form CF001 was submitted to the INEC.
In his reaction,  Governor Abiodun, described the judgement by the tribunal as the triumph of rule of law; victory for democracy and further validation of the mandate bestowed on him at the polls.
The Governor said he remained magnanimous in victory and extended hands of fellowship to all opposition elements in the State and called on the opposition Allied Peoples Movement (APM) to forget about 2019 gubernatorial elections and join hand with his government on its “Building Our Future Together agenda.
He advised that rather than dissipate 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.
“Opposition strengthens democracy and I appreciate the fact that he went to the Tribunal in exercise of his constitutional rights.  The Tribunal has validated the mandate freely given to us by the masses at the polls.
“The candidate and all members of APM and indeed members of other parties are free to  join APC. Those who are still aggrieved should learn that democracy is about majority rule. The people have spoken and the Tribunal has validated their choice of me. Anybody who feels otherwise should start preparing for 2023”
Gov Abiodun thanked the people of Ogun State for their support and solidarity,  promising that he would not take their mandate for granted as he would continue to work towards enhancing the people’s welfare, peace and prosperity of the State.
He thanked the judiciary for the painstaking efforts and fair and lucid judgement which has further strengthened the nation’s democracy and enriched the jurisprudence.
Gov Abiodun eulogised his legal team led by Prof Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) for their demonstration of depth, dedication and brilliance and applauded the support of the APC leadership in Ogun State for the solidarity, love and firm commitment to the course of justice.
He assured the people of his Administration’s commitment to providing a focused and on qualitative  governance anchored on fairness, equity and inclusiveness.
In the same vein, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ogun Chapter, has commended the decision of the Ogun State Governorship Election  Petition Tribunal affirming the election of Prince Dapo Abiodun as duly elected Governor of Ogun State, as an affirmation of a popular and overwhelming candidate.
In a statement issued on Saturday in Abeokuta and signed by the Publicity Secretary of the Ogun APC Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye, the party commended the panel of judges for a detailed and thorough job that is so clear, convincing and beyond reasonable doubt. Indeed, justice has been served.
The statement reads in part:
“ The party wishes to commend the judges for a thorough job done. The detailed nature of the judgement clears all doubts and reconfirms our belief that the petition by Abdulkabir Akinlade, APM and their sponsors as mere distractions  by sore losers.”
“It is very commendable that the judgment of the Tribunal was relayed live on radio and television stations and steamed on the internet. This has exposed the lack of depth, procedurally contaminated and virus invested Petition to the whole world.  In fact, it is very shameful for a candidate and party that were touting to govern a so educationally advanced state like Ogun”.
“Our advice is for these people to desist from their distractions and join Prince Dapo Abiodun in building the future of Ogun State together. The Governor has been running the promised all inclusive government”
“While thanking our party leaders and members for standing steadfast,  we also commend the section of the media that has remained ethical and unbiased.”
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