Ladi Adebutu, the Ogun State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has asked the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta to sack Governor Dapo Abiodun and declare him winner of the March 18 election.
Chris Uche, counsel for Adebutu, who said this while adopting the petitioners’ final written address before the Justice Hamidu Kunaza-led tribunal, added that heavens will not fall if Adebutu is declared winner.
Information Nigeria reports that the tribunal resumed hearing for adoption of final written addresses in a petition filed by Adebutu against Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Monday.
PDP and Adebutu in the petition marked, EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023 accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of 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.
In adopting the final address, Uche told the tribunal that the petitioners filed its addresses replying first, second and third respondents’ addresses, all dated and filed on August 25, 2023.
The senior lawyer urged the election court to grant all the reliefs sought in the petition including disqualification of the second respondent, Abiodun, as a candidate in the gubernatorial election.
Uche asked the tribunal to hold that all votes allocated to Abiodun by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are wasted, and declare the petitioner (Adebutu) as the rightful winner of the election.
“To find that upon a proper calculation of the lawful votes cast in the election, excluding the votes earned by multiple thumbprinting and ticking of ballot papers under the watch of INEC, that the petitioner scored the majority of the lawful votes,” he submitted.
According to him, about 40,891 votes were affected and wrongfully credited to the second respondent.
On margin of lead in the election, Uche said the petitioners relied on exhibits 456,457, 576,609 and 617.
The counsel said the petitioners had “successfully discharged the burden of proof by calling 94 witnesses who gave vital evidence.”
He added that, “I urge my Lords to do justice by granting the reliefs sought in this matter, the heavens will not fall.”
While adopting his final written address, INEC’s Counsel, Remi Olatubora, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition “for being absolutely unmeritorious and for being a total waste of judiciary’s previous time”.
He argued that the petitioners simply dumped the documents on the tribunal, saying “all the bags and envelopes of evidence hauled into this tribunal and tendered from the bar are absolutely inadmissible.”
Wole Olanipekun, Abiodun’s lawyer, in his written address, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition, arguing that all the evidence tendered by the petitioners were not duly signed and stamped by appropriate authorities.
He described all the evidence tendered by the petitioners as “worthless, valueless, baseless and should have been voided ab initio.”
“The position of the law is that an unsigned document is worthless. The principle of margin of lead cannot be a ground for a petition. I therefore urged your Lordships to dismiss this petition”, Olanipekun argued.
Counsel for APC, Onyechi Ikpeazu, submitted that the petitioners raised allegation of non compliance in six local governments but failed to mention any polling unit.
He also argued that the video and picture of alleged political thugs on bikes who disrupted elections were not related to the polling unit.
“We humbly urged my lords to dismiss the petition,” Ikpeazu opined.