Tribunal fixes date for judgment in Osun governorship dispute
The Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Apo, Abuja has scheduled Friday for judgment in the petition by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the September 2018 governorship election held in the state, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
PDP and Adeleke are, by their petition, challenging the declaration of Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The date for the judgment was communicated to parties via hearing notices sent to them on Tuesday to that effect by the tribunal’s secretariat.
Tribunal Chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo had, on March 7, after parties adopted their final written addresses, announced that judgment in the case would be reserved till a later date.
Wole Olanipekun (SAN) appeared for Oyetola; Akin Olujinmi (SAN) represented the APC while Lasco Pwahomdi appeared for INEC on March 7.
The petitioners’ legal team was led by Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN).
In adopting their separate final addresses, Olanipekun, Olujinmi and Pwahomdi urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the petitioners have failed to prove their case.
On his part, Ikpeazu urged the tribunal to uphold the petition and grant all the reliefs prayed by the petitioners.
Olanipekun, while adopting his final address, noted that the petition was full of confusing claims and betrayed the petitioners’ lack of understanding of the nation’s election petition jurisprudence.
In identifying what he described as the many contradictions in the petition, Olanipekun noted that “in pages 37, 38 and 39, the petitioners are presenting a different case entirely from their pleadings. The petition is a bedlam of confusion.”
Olanipekun noted that the petitioners have admitted breaching the electoral law by seeking that some of their votes be quashed.
He added: “They are also asking the tribunal to quash some of their votes. A self-confessed petitioner, who has in writing, admitted infringing the law, cannot be asking to be returned as a winner of the election.
“In their relief seven, they want the court to nullify the certificate of return, but they failed to present the certificate before the tribunal. Where is that certificate? Can the tribunal nullify what is not before it?
“They said the certificate of return is with us. If it is with us, should they not have given us a notice to produce it? They did not give us notice to produce,” Olanipekun said.
He relied on a decision of the Court of Appeal given on Wednesday in the motion filed by the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar and urged the tribunal to decline the petitioners’ prayer to void the guideline issued by INEC for the conduct of the election.
In similar argument, Olujinmi faulted the evidence given by 63 polling agents called as witnesses by the petitioners.
He noted that, though the petitioners called 80 witnesses in all, 63, who were polling unit agents gave common evidence by saying similar things and using almost exactly the same words.
Olujinmi also argued the the evidence by the petitions’ 74th witness, who was the state polling agent, amounted to hearsay evidence because he admitted getting the information from the documents submitted to him.
He urged the tribunal to ignore the various documents tendered by the petitioners, which he said they merely dumped on the tribunal without demonstrating their link to the case.
Olujinmi also noted contradictions in the case of the petitioners and the evidence they led.
He noted that while the petitioners want the tribunal to declare them winner of the first part of the election held on September 22, 2018 and void the supplementary election held on September 27, 2018, their 74th witness said they have no cause of action as it relates to the election of September 22, 2018.
Ikpeazu, in his counter argument, urged the tribunal to disregard the issues raised by the respondents’ lawyers.
He faulted the written addresses by the 2nd and 3rd respondents, which he argued, were not filed as required by law.
Ikpeazu said there was no confusion as it relates to the case of the petitioners. He said the respondents’ claim of existence of confusion betrayed their misunderstanding of the case.
Ikpeazu said the petitioners’ case was that, based of the result of the election of September 22, the 1st petitioner, having satisfied provision of Section 179(2) of the Constitution, ought to be declared as having won.
He faulted the respondents’ argument that the petitioners dumped documents on the tribunal.
Ikpeazu argued that the petitioners have effectively demonstrated all the documents tendered, including the certified true copies of the result sheets, which he said, were riddled with alterations.
He queried the powers of INEC to alter election results and urged the tribunal to grant the petitioners’ prayers.