THE Election Petition Tribunal sitting over the governorship election in Ondo State on Tuesday reserved judgment on the petition filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Chief Olusola Oke, and that of the Action Congress Nigeria (ACN), Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
This followed the adoption of written addresses by parties to the petition before the three-man tribunal, led by Justice Andovar Kaka’án.
The major issue raised by the petitioners in their addresses was the validity of the voters register used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the October 20, 2012 governorship election in the state.
The opposition PDP and ACN were of the opinion that the election which produced Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Labour Party (LP) as the winner of the election was fraught with irregularities, particularly on the alleged manipulation of the voters register.
But the respondents, which include Mimiko, LP and INEC faulted the claim of the petitioners, saying the election was free, fair and a reflection of the wish of the majority of the citizens of the state.
The tribunal sitting was, however, conducted under heavy security as the three major dramtis personae, Mimiko, Oke and Akeredolu were present in the court room which was filled to capacity by supporters of the three political parties. The counsel of the parties argued for over five hours.
Counsel to the governor, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, who led other five senior lawyers, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitions of the oppositions’ candidates on the ground that the allegations against the result of the election could not be substantiated.
Olanipekun said all the evidences relied on by the opposition were computer-generated which is not admissible in law, adding that the injection of voters’ register relied on by the ACN for their case failed, as there was no evidence that there was manipulation either by the INEC or any of the parties.
He said, “The crux of the matter is injected voters. If anybody has been injected, it is the ACN’s candidate,” adding that the issue of voters’ register should not be brought to the tribunal as it was a pre-election matter which the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain.
In the same vein, the lead counsel to the LP, Mallam Yusuf Alli SAN and that of INEC, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN, supported Olanipekun’s submission and asked the tribunal to reject the exhibit 50 series of the petitioner as such evidence is not admissible in law.
But counsel to PDP, Mr Patrick Ikueto SAN and that of ACN, Chief Akin Olujimi, argued that since the voters’ register used for the election was faulty with the injection of strange names, the election should be nullified.
Ikueto said the PDP called 45 witnesses including its candidate, Chief Oke, as witnesses and presented several documentary evidences, which he said the respondents could not disprove.
Olujimi, in his presentation, argued that the inability of both LP and INEC to present witnesses confirmed that they had abandoned their evidences.
The tribunal, having listened to the arguments of the counsel and the reply on the point of law, fixed judgment to a date that would be communicated to the parties.
Culled from Tribune