There is anxiety among members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress in Ogun State, as the Election Petition Tribunal set Saturday, September 30 to deliver its judgement.
The secretary of the Tribunal made the announcement to journalists in Abeokuta on Thursday.
It has been three months of rigorous arguments and counter-arguments as Counsels to PDP and its governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu (petitioners); Dapo Abiodun (second respondent); INEC (first respondent) and APC (third respondent) engaged in a fierce legal battle for the last three months at the Tribunal.
INEC had declared Abiodun winner after polling 276,298 votes, while Adebutu scored 262,38 and Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) came distant third with 9, 4754 votes.
But, PDP and Adebutu dragged Abiodun and APC before the Tribunal, alleging that the governor did not win the majority of votes cast during the March 18 governorship election.
PDP and Adebutu in the petition marked, EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023 accused the INECof non-compliance to the Electoral Act and corrupt practices during the election.
The petitioners also alleged that elections were disrupted by thugs in over 99 polling units, disenfranchising over 40,000 voters from participating in the election.
Adebutu is seeking an order of the court to declare him as the winner of the election.
He also prayed the court to order the INEC to conduct fresh election in 99 polling units in 41 wards which cut across 16 Local government areas of the State where elections were either not held and/or cancelled due to disruption and over-voting.
In proving its case, the petitioners called a total of 94 witnesses and also tendered over 200,000 documents before the Tribunal.
While Abiodun, who is the second respondent called a total of six witnesses, including two subpoenaed witnesses – an official of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), a staff of Zenith bank, voters and party agents.
Abiodun also tendered hundreds of documents as evidence to prove his case.
Ahead of the judgement on Saturday, Adebutu has expressed confidence in Tribunal in delivering “true justice”.
Adebutu who spoke through his Director of media, Afolabi Orekoya said the petitioners have provided their case beyond doubt with what he described as “overwhelming evidence”.
He said, “Well, we have been able to prove our case that he (Abiodun) did not win the March 18 governorship elections and that INEC ought not to have made a declaration.
“We proved this by tendering enough documents as evidence for all the 99 polling units affected, calling of 94 witnesses including INEC ad-hoc staff who worked directly in some of the cancelled polling units.
“One good thing is that during trials, all the respondents, including INEC agreed that polling units were cancelled as a result of violence and attacks. We could also see that INEC did not deny that documents tendered did not originate from them; one very grievous electoral malpractice that we established was the ballot papers that were marked and those with multiple impressions.
“Based on all of this, we have absolute confidence in the Tribunal Panel to deliver true justice that will meet the yearnings of the people of Ogun State.
“We strongly believe that we will get good justice and take over the affairs of the state from mishandlers and provide good governance that is people-oriented”.
Also speaking to our correspondent, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in the State, Tunde Oladunjoye said the party expect nothing but justice from the three-man Panel.
Oladunjoye said, “We are feeling very hopeful having known we worked and earned the victory with the support of God and the good people of Ogun State who voted for continuity.
“We believe justice would be done. There is no anxiety anywhere as we believed that not only did PDP lost the governorship election, the party also presented a porous petition that can’t stand thorough judicial scrutiny. We call on our supporters to be calm and prayerful”.
Meanwhile, the road leading to the Magistrate court venue of the Tribunal sitting had been blocked from the Kuto axis by security operatives.
The move, our correspondent learnt was to wad off intruders and prevent a repeat of what happened at the opening session of the Tribunal where political thugs invaded the court with canes and other dangerous weapons.
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