Tribunal Upholds Makinde’s Election, Dismisses Adelabu’s Petition

The governorship election tribunal sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Monday, upheld the declaration of ‘Seyi Makinde as winner of the March 9 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had dragged Makinde of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the tribunal contesting the latter’s declaration as winner of the election.

INEC and PDP were also joined as first and second defendants.

Reading the judgment in the petition EPT/OY/GOV/01/2019, filed by Adelabu and APC, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Sirajo Muhammed, held that the petitioners failed to prove allegations of over-voting, corrupt practices, substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010, while most of the petitioners’ witnesses based their evidence on hearsay, not direct eyewitnesses’ accounts.

The tribunal pointed out that the petitioners failed to plead any alternative scores against that released by INEC and prove over-voting which was a statutory basis for cancellation of results.

It further held that the tribunal failed to tender voters’ register, relate statement of results to a specific unit or constituency to show that there was over-voting and that if removed will substantially affect the result of the election.

On alleged anomalies, wrongful collation of results or unaccounted ballot papers, the tribunal ruled that no law compelled an accredited voter to vote.

The tribunal also found that the petitioner presented 37 polling unit agents out of 1,426 polling units challenged, adding that 1,389 units were deemed abandoned.

However, the tribunal invalidated the result of unit 003, ward 09, Ido Local Government because the returning officer produced two different results.

Other members of the three-man panel were Justices Mussa Bazza and Elizabeth Orji.

In the petition dated March 29, 2019, the petitioners (Adelabu and APC) asked the tribunal to nullify the governorship election for substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and order a fresh election.

The petitioners argued that the election should be declared invalid, alleging corrupt practices, improper accreditation, over-voting, inaccurate ballot accounting, infractions, alterations, cancellations and irregularities in form EC8A.

They also alleged disenfranchisement of voters in some polling units, mere allocation of figures for the PDP by INEC, adding that Makinde was not duly elected by the majority of lawful voters.

As evidence to buttress its arguments, the petitioner had tendered 69 witnesses and 4,164 exhibits before the tribunal.

In its reply, INEC denied the allegations of irregularities and disenfranchisement of voters, asking the tribunal to dismiss the petition.

The electoral umpire hinged its call for the dismissal of the petition on the failure of petitioners to point at specific polling units where voters were disenfranchised and failure to prove irreconcilable entries.

Makinde and PDP regarded the petition as epileptic, unmeritorious, frivolous and lacking in merit, asking that it should be dismissed.

They further contended that the petition was full of uncertainty, imprecise and vague.

Recall that Makinde was pronounced the winner of the March 9 governorship election, having polled 515,621 votes to defeat APC’s Adelabu who got 357,982 votes; thus defeating him with over 157,000 votes.

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