After Twelve hours of sitting, Ogun Tribunal has affirmed the State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, as winner of the State’s March 18 governorship election.
The Tribunal, sitting in Abeokuta and presided by Justice Hamidu Kunaza, supported by Justice J B Egele and Justice Sannusi Shehu had dismissed the petition filed by the PDP and it’s candidate, Ladi Adebutu, on the grounds of on the grounds of incompetence, being vague and lacking understanding of how to use the wording of the electoral act, as well as unreliable witnesses and evidence.
OgunWatch reports after receiving 276,298 votes, INEC pronounced Abiodun as the victor. Adebutu received 262,38 votes, and Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) finished in a distant third place with 94,754 votes.
Abiodun and the APC were brought before the Tribunal by the PDP and Adebutu, who claimed that the governor had not received the majority of the votes cast in the March 18 governorship election.
In the petition with the file number EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023, the PDP and Adebutu accused the INEC of violating the Electoral Act and engaging in unethical behaviour during the election.
The petitioners also claimed that thugs interfered with elections in over 99 polling places, preventing over 40,000 voters from casting ballots.
Adebutu requested a court order designating him as the election’s victor.
Additionally, he requested that the court order the INEC to hold new elections in 99 polling places spread across 41 wards and 16 local government areas of the State, where previous polls had been annulled or postponed as a result of disruption and excessive voting.
However, the judges maintained that the petitioners had not established beyond a reasonable doubt that the claims of non-compliance, overvoting, voter disenfranchisement, non-qualification of the second respondent (Abiodun), and corrupt practises during the election were true.
In the lead ruling, Justice Kunaza stated that the forensic specialists had no evidence to support their expertise, and that their reports could not be trusted.
The panel arrived at the conclusion that there was no tangible evidence that persons were denied the right to vote during the election.
The tribunal insisted that the disenfranchised voters testify that they were ready to vote, that their candidate would have won if they had been permitted to vote, and that they possessed their voters’ cards and were registered voters.
Concerning Abiodun’s alleged ineligibility owing to criminal histories, Kunaza stated that the petitioners had failed to prove that the second respondent (Abiodun) had been tried, arraigned, and convicted in the United States.
“On the whole, the petitioners have not successfully proven the allegation of non compliance with the electoral act and have not discharged the burden of prove,” he said.
In dismissing the petition, Kunaza “I uphold the election of Dapo Abiodun as the dully elected governor of Ogun State in the March 18 election.”
OgunWatch in an interview with Taiwo Ospitan , counsel to APC, he described the judgement as “ a fantastic judgment, the right step in the right direction. It is a confirmation of the mandate of the people of this state, a good judgment with no cause for alarm”
The state deputy governor, Noimot Salako Oyedele, praised the judges and counsel for their work, saying that the people of the state voted for Dapo Abiodun but the PDP rejected, and now they have won the verdict twice.
“ I thank the judges and counsel for doing a very thorough job over there for 12 hours. We won this election on the 18th of March. People of the state voted for APC, they voted for His Excellency. But unfortunately the PDP have put us through all this and they prosecuted the election again through the courts and again we have won this election. So we have won this election twice and with this today they can go all the way to the Supreme Court. I can assure you that the people of the state will get the governor that they have voted.
“ I’ll be here as of now till 2027. I thank everybody who has worked together with us to get us here till today. And we look forward to enjoying today’s victory at the election. And then we get back to work and delivery to the people of the state, all that they have voted for and all that they expect for APC government led by Prince Dapo Abiodun.