The Ogun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Isabo area of Abeokuta, the state capital, on Saturday, upheld the electoral victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the March 18 governorship contest in the state as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The three-man Tribunal, headed by Justice Hamidu Kunaza, dismissed the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, on the ground that it “lacked merit as a whole.”
In a unanimous decision, which lasted about 11 hours, the Tribunal held that the allegations of corrupt practices, non-compliance with the Electoral Act, multiple thumb-printing of ballot papers, ballot stuffing, as well as allegation of certificate forgery upon which the PDP candidate was seeking the disqualification of Abiodun and upturning of his electoral victory in their favour were not proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Kunaza also described the testimonies of the 94 witnesses called by the PDP as “industrially manufactured, mechanically produced and adopted, contrary to the common occurrence of natural causes” and thereby “proven to be similar, too coincindental and unbelievable to rely on” in determining the petition.
On the allegation of certificate forgery leveled against Governor Abiodun, the Tribunal held that the petitioner failed to prove the criminal allegation beyond reasonable doubt by providing any witness from the United States of America (USA) to testify against the second defendant (Abiodun).
In striking out the allegation of vote buying and corrupt practices, the Tribunal held that the allegations were two inseparable twins for which the petitioners have failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt.
The court also held that allegation of certificate forgery and arrest and detention of Abiodun in 1986 were pre-election matters, which ought to have been determined 14 days before the March 18 election.
In upholding Abiodun’s electoral victory, the Tribunal, therefore, dismissed all the grounds upon which the petitioners had approached the court for justice.
By Femi Oyeweso
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